More on illegal aliens receiving the earned income tax credit for work Americans “won’t do”

In response to my post earlier today on this subject, “Don” writes: ” I think your blog post would be a lot stronger if it stated how much this practice is actually happening…. it seems a little inflammatory to raise an issue that may not be happening. It’s kind of like the Glen Beckian cry over all the “illegal aliens” but when you look at the issue you see that there are fewer illegals coming in than there have been in a long time…probably because of the economy. I guess, in my head, I wouldn’t have so much problem with them getting that tiny tax break for doing jobs, at extraordinarily low pay, that “legals” won’t do. I’m sure you’re familiar with some of the incentives that have been tried to get legals to pick fruit in California…which have all fallen flat.”

Thanks, Don, for your comment! I don’t really have any idea how much this is actually happening, non-citizens receiving the EITC for years when they were present and working illegally. I do know from conversations with lawyers who have been doing tax returns for low-income taxpayers that they are aware of, and surprised by, the ruling. Law professors love these apparent conflicts between statutes and interpretive rulings regardless of the number of actual cases they generate. Requests should be made to members of Congress to request that the IRS determine and quantify the answer to your question and report that answer back to Congress.

But if the IRS ruling allowing this practice is not repealed or modified, a broad amnesty for illegal aliens such as that advocated by President Obama, would result in millions of amnestied aliens qualifying for the EITC for previous years when they were working illegally. If 3 million amnestied aliens qualify for EITC benefits averaging $2,000 per year for 2 years, there would be an unbudgeted cost to the U.S. Treasury and taxpayers of $12 billion in EITC benefits alone. And the total could be much more than that.

As for your contention that there are some jobs so tough that “‘legals’ won’t do” them, it would be more accurate to say that legal workers won’t do those jobs at the wages, benefits, and working conditions that employers want to provide. I’ve always objected to the notion that there are any jobs too tough or too difficult, or too dirty for American workers to do. But it shouldn’t be surprising that American workers have higher expectations of what constitutes a fair wage, fair benefits, and fair working conditions for any particular job, than illegal aliens do. But why pay a higher wage to American workers when illegal alien workers can be hired at a fraction of the cost?

Market theory tells us that everyone has their price, including me. You can get me to pick your fruit or clean your toilets if you meet my price. And you can get lots of other American workers, too, if you meet their price, which will usually be cheaper than mine.

John McCain got in trouble during his 2008 campaign for President when he said that American workers wouldn’t take jobs in agriculture even if they paid $50 an hour. His campaign started receiving inquiries from unemployed Americans as to where those $50 an hour jobs were located. I’ve not heard of any growers offering the McCain incentive to find legal workers.

And as for your contention that, “there are fewer illegals coming in than there have been in a long time,” the truth is that no one knows how many illegals are coming in now. All we can do is estimate based on the number of apprehensions of illegals near our borders, which are indeed down. That number is still averaging in the thousands every night. How many get through for each one caught? No one knows. Nor is there any way to count the number of aliens overstaying their temporary visitor visas.

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