The Internal Revenue Service sent 23,994 tax refunds worth a combined $46,378,040 to “unauthorized” alien workers who all used the same address in Atlanta, Ga., in 2011, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
That was not the only Atlanta address theoretically occupied by thousands of “unauthorized” alien workers receiving millions in federal tax refunds in 2011. In fact, according to a TIGTA audit report published last year, four of the top ten addresses to which the IRS sent thousands of tax refunds to “unauthorized” aliens were in Atlanta.
The IRS sent 11,284 refunds worth a combined $2,164,976 to unauthorized alien workers at a second Atlanta address; 3,608 worth $2,691,448 to a third; and 2,386 worth $1,232,943 to a fourth.
Other locations on the IG’s Top Ten list for singular addresses that were theoretically used simultaneously by thousands of unauthorized alien workers, included an address in Oxnard, Calif, where the IRS sent 2,507 refunds worth $10,395,874; an address in Raleigh, North Carolina, where the IRS sent 2,408 refunds worth $7,284,212; an address in Phoenix, Ariz., where the IRS sent 2,047 refunds worth $5,558,608; an address in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., where the IRS sent 1,972 refunds worth $2,256,302; an address in San Jose, Calif., where the IRS sent 1,942 refunds worth $5,091,027; and an address in Arvin, Calif., where the IRS sent 1,846 refunds worth $3,298,877.
Since 1996, the IRS has issued what it calls Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) to two classes of persons: 1) non-resident aliens who have a tax liability in the United States, and 2) aliens living in the United States who are “not authorized to work in the United States.”
The IRS has long known it was giving these numbers to illegal aliens, and thus facilitating their ability to work illegally in the United States. For example, the Treasury Inspector General’s Semiannual Report to Congress published on Oct. 29, 1999—nearly fourteen years ago—specifically drew attention to this problem.
“The IRS issues Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) to undocumented aliens to improve nonresident alien compliance with tax laws. This IRS practice seems counter-productive to the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s (INS) mission to identify undocumented aliens and prevent unlawful alien entry,” TIGTA warned in that long-ago report.
The inspector general’s 2012 audit report on the IRS’s handling of ITINs was spurred by two IRS employees who went to member of Congress “alleging that IRS management was requiring employees to assign Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) even when the applications were fraudulent.”
In an August 2012 press release accompanying the audit report, TIGTA said the report “validated” the complaints of the IRS employees.
“TIGTA’s audit found that IRS management has not established adequate internal controls to detect and prevent the assignment of an ITIN to individuals submitting questionable applications,” said Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George. “Even more troubling, TIGTA found an environment which discourages employees from detecting fraudulent applications.”
In addition to the 23,994 tax refunds worth a combined $46,378,040 that the IRS sent to a single address in Atlanta, the IG also discovered that the IRS had assigned 15,796 ITINs to unauthorized aliens who presumably resided at a single Atlanta address.
The IRS, according to TIGTA, also assigned ITINs to 15,028 unauthorized aliens presumably living at a single address in Dallas, Texas, and 10,356 to unauthorized aliens presumably living at a single address in Atlantic City, N.J.
Perhaps the most remarkable act of the IRS was this: It assigned 6,411 ITINs to unauthorized aliens presumably using a single address in Morganton, North Carolina. According to the 2010 Census, there were only 16,681 people in Morganton. So, for the IRS to have been correct in issuing 6,411 ITINS to unauthorized aliens at a single address Morganton it would have meant that 38 percent of the town’s total population were unauthorized alien workers using a single address.
TIGTA said there were 154 addresses around the country that appeared on 1,000 or more ITIN applications made to the IRS.