April 13, 2016

Legislators join battle over immigrant tax returns

Legislators joined the dispute between an immigrant rights group and the state Taxation and Revenue Department.

State Rep. Miguel Garcia and State Sens. Jerry Ortiz y Pino and Richard Martinez, all Democrats, sided with the immigrant rights group Somos un Pueblo Unido and MALDEF. The groups say that TRD is illegally withholding tax returns from immigrants who are in the country illegally.

The TRD secretary says that the efforts are legal and necessary to root out fraud in tax returns.

At issue is TRD asking for more information when a Social Security number on a tax return does not match the identification number on an employer’s W-2 form.

This results in state tax returns from those who use federal Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs) being flagged. The TRD then asks for proof of employment, which could be pay stubs or a letter from an employer, TRD secretary Demesia Padilla said according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

“The Taxation and Revenue Department has usurped the authority of New Mexico lawmakers by creating a discriminatory policy never reviewed or approved by the legislature,” MALDEF Southwest Regional Counsel, Marisa Bono said in a statement. “We look forward to representing these elected officials as they seek to restore balance to the separation of powers.”

Ortiz y Pino said TRD is “targeting” the families, which include U.S. citizen children.

“This program, concocted without the Legislature’s approval and behind closed doors, shows once again that this administration is about stealth and overreach,” Ortiz y Pino said.

From the New Mexican:

Asked why her department is concerned about the discrepancy in the identification numbers while the IRS isn’t, Padilla told reporters, “I don’t know why the federal government isn’t protecting its revenue. Maybe because they can print money, and I can’t.”

Tuesday, attorneys for the immigrant rights groups sought an injunction to allow the immigrants impacted by TRD’s regulation to receive their 2015 tax returns. First Judicial District Court Judge David Thomson has not acted on the request yet.