Is it important to file my tax returns every year?
Yes! Filing taxes is very important in applying for certain types of immigration benefits from the USCIS or before the immigration court. For example, filing yearly income tax returns is essential if you are a permanent resident and filing for naturalization. Also, if you are undocumented and you will be applying for Cancellation of Removal in immigration court, nearly all immigration judges require filing taxes for the last 5-10 years before a final hearing. Filing tax returns is beneficial and even a requirement for obtaining many important immigration benefits.
Does it matter who helps me file my taxes?
Yes! You should only get a qualified and ethical tax preparer to assist you in filing your taxes. Some tax preparers are not very knowledgeable in tax law, which changes every year. Other tax preparers will encourage you to lie on your forms to get a larger tax rebate or to file for an income tax credit for which you may not be eligible. Intentionally lying on your taxes is fraud, and it is illegal. This type of bad advice could seriously damage your immigration status and lead to a denial of immigration benefits or even a criminal charge of tax evasion or lying on your tax return. Only use a reliable, honest, and knowledgeable tax preparer to assist in filing your tax return.
Should I ever use a tax preparer to help in filing immigration forms?
No! Some tax preparers advertise that they can help file immigration forms. Do not fall for this scam! Tax preparers are not immigration attorneys. Immigration law is one of the most complicated areas of law, and it is constantly changing. Only an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney (or a non-profit organization representative officially accredited by the U.S. Department of Justice) can properly determine whether you qualify for the benefit you are seeking, advise you of your immigration options, know the proper forms and evidence to submit, and represent you before an immigration agency or an immigration judge. If you seek the legal advice of someone who is merely a tax preparer, you and your case could be seriously harmed by their lack of knowledge.
What if I am a victim of an immigration scam?
You can report the scam to your state Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Office (in Kentucky, 888-432-9257) or to the Federal Trade Commission through the FTC Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-382-4357. You can make the report anonymously. If you were threatened, intimidated, physically assaulted, or lied to so the scammer could steal your money, you should report it immediately to the police as those are serious crimes. Reporting these kinds of criminal behavior is the right thing to do, protects others in your community from also becoming victims, and might benefit you in the future with your immigration case.