Every day, illegal immigrants cross our border. And public records show our own government may be giving them an incentive to do it.
We allow tax refunds for people who are not documented to live or work here. A treasury audit shows they received $4.2 billion in refunds in 2010. That comes out to around $10 million a day.
Although illegal immigrants do not have Social Security numbers, they can apply for and receive individual taxpayer ID numbers, then claim child tax credits for up to $1,000 per child.
"When I tell people this, they think I'm pulling their leg. I think I'm pulling their leg," said Bill Nemeth, a tax expert who files legal tax returns for illegal immigrants. "It sounds crazy to me when I tell people."
Congress is aware of this. In fact, it has been the subject of a lively debate. Efforts to require Social Security numbers in order to receive child tax credits have failed. Congress decided to allow child credits for undocumented workers because cutting them off would ultimately hurt their children.
This program keeps young children out of poverty, said U.S. Rep. John Lewis, (D) Georgia.
But government records show many applicants may be listing kids they don't really have in order to get the credits. And many may not really be illegal immigrants, but rather, crooks posing as illegal immigrants to get money from the government.
"I would say realistically 70 to 80 percent of what we were seeing was fraud and blatant fraud," said Howard Antelis.
Antelis worked at the IRS office in Texas that processes all the illegal immigrant applications for taxpayer identifications.
"I was incredibly angry. And not just me. A number of coworkers were angry and ashamed," he said.
Government inspectors looked into it and found The IRS had a deficient review process. It had eliminated successful processes to identify fraud, and even discouraged tax examiners from flagging questionable applications. Inspectors also discovered the IRS sent out nearly 54,000 refunds to the same ten addresses (that's more than $86 million in refunds.)
The IRS responded to this. It will now require original documents in order to receive taxpayer IDs (it previously did not require original documentation).
LINKS TO TREASURY AUDITS: