Illegal immigrants could receive more than $7 billion this year in federal tax credits, according to one estimate, thanks to a loophole in the law that allows people not authorized to work to reap the government payments with no questions asked.
Sen. Jeff Sessions’ office calculated that, based on recent trends, illegal immigrants could receive roughly $7.4 billion through a provision known as the Additional Child Tax Credit. That’s more than quadruple what the payout was four years ago, but the payments have been steadily increasing over the past decade.
Though illegal immigrants are prohibited from receiving similar tax credits, a quirk in the law allows them to qualify for the child tax credit. And it’s a “refundable” credit, meaning recipients can reap the money—with average checks totaling about $1,800—even if they’ve paid no taxes.
Illegal immigrants can qualify because even people not authorized to work in the U.S. are supposed to file returns with the IRS. If they don’t have a Social Security number, they are provided what’s known as an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number in order to file returns.
And those filers are not excluded from claiming the Additional Child Tax Credit, which is offered to some families with children under 17 years old.