On his January 29 radio show, CNN host Lou Dobbs claimed that the economic recovery package passed by the House of Representatives “would allow people who don’t have Social Security numbers to be eligible” for the bill’s Making Work Pay tax credits and would therefore make undocumented immigrants “eligible for checks.” As Media Matters for America has documented, Dobbs’ claim is false. Dobbs appeared to be reading from a false Associated Press report that, by the time Dobbs made the claim, had already been revised to make clear that “[i]llegal immigrants without Social Security numbers could not get tax credits” under the stimulus bill.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act specifically precludes from eligibility for the Making Work Pay tax credit of $500 per individual and $1,000 per family “any individual unless the requirements of section 32(c)(1)(E) are met with respect to such individual.” Section 32(c)(1)(E) of the Internal Revenue Code, which specifies requirements for individuals to qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, states:
(E) Identification number requirement
No credit shall be allowed under this section to an eligible individual who does not include on the return of tax for the taxable year —
(i) such individual’s taxpayer identification number, and
(ii) if the individual is married (within the meaning of section 7703), the taxpayer identification number of such individual’s spouse.
The law defines “taxpayer identification number” as used in 32(c)(1)(E) as “a social security number issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration”:
(m) Identification numbers
Solely for purposes of subsections (c)(1)(E) and (c)(3)(D), a taxpayer identification number means a social security number issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration (other than a social security number issued pursuant to clause (II) (or that portion of clause (III) that relates to clause (II)) of section 205(c)(2)(B)(i) of the Social Security Act).
Therefore, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act bars anyone without “a social security number issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration” from eligibility for Making Work Pay tax credits.
From the January 29 broadcast of United Stations Radio Networks’ The Lou Dobbs Show:
PAT CHOATE (Manufacturing Policy Project director): It’s actually gonna worsen our illegal immigration problem.
DOBBS: Yeah — you know, you’re making a great point, and a lot of people are sitting there thinking, I’m sure, “My God, Pat Choate doesn’t realize that Barack Obama’s folks said there would be no way that illegal aliens could be hired and be receiving these government checks in the economic stimulus plan.” There’s just one little problem, folks. As Dr. Choate is suggesting, the legislation that would send tax credits of 500 per worker, $1,000 per couple, would expressly disqualify non-resident aliens. At the same time, it would allow people who don’t have Social Security numbers to be eligible for checks. So, in other words, all they have to do is ask for the money. They can get it because undocumented immigrants who are not eligible for a number can file tax returns with an alternative number. In other words, the game goes on.
—H.D. & J.S.
Media Matters for America