Immigration status hinders eligibility for stimulus checks – Live 5 News WCSC

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) – Millions of people may be cashing in their stimulus checks, but there are some taxpayers who aren’t able to receive relief payments.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, otherwise known as the CARES act, is the government’s $2.2 trillion economic relief bill passed in March, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the bill, immigrants who have a social security number are eligible for the stimulus checks. Those who have a green card or certain work visas are able to receive payments, but many non-citizens and undocumented immigrants are not.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says that American citizens who file taxes with their immigrant spouse, who do not have a Social Security number, are also ineligible. Those taxpayers could choose to file separately from their spouse to receive payments.

Louise Pocock is an immigration policy attorney with the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center. She says these immigrants are still paying taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

“Not every immigration status which is lawful in the U.S comes with work authorization, so if you’re in a status that doesn’t have work authorization but maybe you’re married to someone who files taxes with work authorization, you could have an ITIN number,” Pocock said.

It’s also a way for undocumented immigrants to pay taxes, who are looking to adjust their legal status.

Community advocates say that the lack of financial help takes a toll on the immigrant community.

“We’re talking about construction workers, hospitality, and cleaning companies. It’s very difficult for those families,” said Lydia Cotton, Hispanic liaison in the immigrant community. “At this point we have hundreds of people who are not paying their rent, and can’t pay their rent.”

The SC Appleseed Legal justice center is pushing for these taxpayers to be included in future stimulus packages at a federal level. In the meantime, local groups are coming together to start a mutual aid fund to help people who aren’t eligible for stimulus checks or unemployment benefits.

“We’re asking people to donate part, or all of their check to the fund and this will go directly to help people in need,” community activist Fernando Soto said.

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