Introduces Legislation that Could Save Taxpayers Billions by Fixing Eligibility Formula

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today introduced legislation to close a loophole that allows noncitizens to claim federal child tax credits, a fix that would save taxpayers billions of dollars a year.

The Safeguarding American Workers’ Benefits Act (S.3798) would effectively standardize the eligibility requirements for both the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC), programs that currently use different criteria to determine who can claim the federal benefits.

“Let’s face facts.  Our national debt is unsustainable and only getting worse.  Combine that with the taxpayer-funded benefits that are and will be claimed by the waves of illegal immigrants flooding across the border, and we’re faced with the duty of finding areas where we can begin stemming government spending,” Hyde-Smith said.  “The reforms outlined in the Safeguarding American Workers’ Benefits Act would save taxpayers billions of dollars and restore fairness to our tax system by ensuring these credits are directed to eligible, hardworking individuals.”

S.3798 would require both parents and children to have Social Security numbers (SSNs) valid for employment purposes in order to qualify for the EITC and CTC, primarily by applying the requirement to both the tax filer (or spouse for joint filers) and qualifying children.  Enacting this measure would save taxpayers an estimated $24.5 billion over 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Currently the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) bases eligibility for the benefits on varying standards.  For instance: 

  • Earned Income Tax Credit:  While the EITC should only go to persons with SSNs authorized to work in the United States, some people receive the EITC even though, neither they, nor their children, possess SSNs with the work authorization.  This loophole is due to SSNs issued prior to 2003 without the authorization to work, which enables “unauthorized persons” to claim this credit.
  • Child Tax Credit:  Noncitizens can claim the CTC as long as at least one child has a SSN valid for employment purposes.  After 2025, however, the work authorization requirement will be dropped and anyone, including noncitizens, with a SSN or IRS-issued individual taxpayer identification number will be able to claim the CTC.

“This fiscally-responsible legislation is intended to ensure the EITC and CTC credits go to eligible, hardworking families.  Only U.S. citizens and persons authorized to work in our country should have access to these credits,” Hyde-Smith said.