We all know or are related to someone who may be an undocumented immigrant. Whatever your political stance, the topic of undocumented immigration has long been a hot button issue.
Yet, the United States has a long history of immigration tied to it founding and expansion.
What’s hard to argue is that undocumented immigration is a lever of industry that financially benefits the United States. The United States’ population is 330 million.
There are over 10.5 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Undocumented immigrants comprise about 7.6 million of the 160 million strong American work force. That’s almost 5% of the American workforce.
Undocumented Immigrants, Taxes, and Driver’s Licenses
While that is not a hefty number, it’s not insignificant either. Also, while many critics of undocumented immigration cite their financial drain on social services, it must be asserted that they pay taxes.
While they can’t have Social Security numbers, they pay taxes via Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) and/or payroll taxes.
As per IRS statistics, over 4.3 million tax returns were filed with ITINs. In 2015, undocumented immigrants contributed almost $14 billion in federal taxes.
That is not including another $12 billion paid annually via payroll tax deductions. The inclusion of undocumented immigrants to business life extends to document processing.
About 13 states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Utah, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia allow undocumented immigrants the ability to apply for driver’s licenses.
Over nine more American states are introducing legislation to do the same this year alone.
So, if they can do these things, can illegal immigrants open a bank account? Can they open an IRA or retirement account? If you know someone who could use this information, here is what you should know.
Opening a Bank Account or IRA
For those that wonder if undocumented immigrants can apply for an IRA, the answer is yes. As an undocumented immigrant you will need documentation including but not limited to: a valid passport, foreign-issued government IDs, birth certificate, alien identification card number, and an ITIN. Required documents differ from bank to bank, but an ITIN will always be required.
Also, undocumented immigrants can open a 401(k), traditional IRA, or Roth IRA. This is only possible if your employer offers such plans. Usually, you must be 21 and have worked for an employer offering such a year or over 1,000 hours. Also, unless you plan to return to a home country within a few years, opening an IRA may be self-defeating.
For example, there is no reason for an undocumented immigrant to apply for a IRA if they will return home soon. An IRA plan is a plan that will pay off decades from now. Its also important to remember that there are financial penalties for early withdrawals under the age of 60.
Get an ITIN and Pay Taxes
To be eligible for such benefits, an undocumented immigrant must be a taxpayer and have an ITIN. You can apply for an ITIN via the W-7 form through the IRS. An ITIN must be renewed every 5 years.
If you don’t use an ITIN for 3 straight years, it automatically expires. It’s important to keep in mind that ITINs don’t prove immigration nor work authorization status.
So, Can Undocumented Immigrants Open An IRA? Yes, but the process can be complicated.