Truthsquad on immigration
Harry Reid "votes to give special tax breaks to illegal aliens."
Sharron Angle (R-NV), U.S. Senate candidate on Sen. Harry Reid's (D-NV) voting record on immigration
Source: YouTube

Editor Findings

  • Truthsquadeditoricon_thumb_thumb
    Mostly False
    In her September 14th ad "Best Friend," released in advance of the 2010 Senate election in Nevada, Republican Sharron Angle criticized her Democratic opponent Harry Reid's voting record, claiming he "votes to give special tax breaks to illegal aliens." After carefully considering the evidence and fact-checking the case on both sides, as well as our own findings, we have adjusted our initial verdict to declare this statement "Mostly False." Angle's claim seems deliberately oversimplified to make a more shocking sound byte. The ad claims that Reid's voting record supports "special tax breaks to illegal aliens" without citing any specific evidence. When asked, the Angle campaign refers to several votes by Reid to support this claim. Most do not target illegal aliens, and one, on an amendment offered by Reid himself, explicitly contradicts Angle's implications. Reid voted against one amendment early in debate that provides Angle's claim with its one shred of truth, but we find it deliberately misleading to construe Reid's vote the way she did in this ad.

    In question are Reid's votes on amendments to the 2006 and 2007 comprehensive immigration bills. These bills were both designed to provide a path to citizenship for millions of people who came to the United States without legal status. The bills lay out a step-by-step process for immigrants to become legal residents, which would qualify them to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit. A debate emerged over whether illegal immigrants who received probationary Z visas under this process would thus become eligible for this credit. pointed us to this report from the Heritage Foundation, which explains that, under the law as proposed, "all individuals in probationary Z visa status will be given lawful Social Security numbers, which makes the Z visa holder immediately eligible for... the EITC." Consequently, two Republican senators introduced amendments to ensure that this status would not permit illegal immigrants to receive the tax credit.

    Reid did indeed vote against one amendment that would prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit: Amendment 4108, offered by Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican from Alabama. Here is the passage from this amendment on page S4974, which addresses illegal immigrants' eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit:
    On page 364, line 22, after ``an'' insert the following: ``alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, or an alien receiving adjustment of status under section 408(h) of this Act who was illegally present in the United States prior to January 7, 2004, section 601 of this Act, or section 613(c) of this Act, shall not be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. With respect to benefits other than the Earned Income Tax Credit, an alien''.
    This passage addresses immigrants receiving legal status due to adjustments made in the immigration reform bill, as both PolitiFact and point out, but it also covers any "alien who is unlawfully present in the United States." It seems to us that PolitiFact and found this language redundant, because they both treat this amendment as though it only affects the people "receiving adjustment" to legal status under the proposed immigration bill. We feel that the first clause addressing any "alien who is unlawfully present in the United States" is deliberate, and that it lends the only plausible argument in favor of Angle's claims about Reid's vote.

    NewsTrust Host Neil Anderson found a thorough report by Edwin S. Rubenstein entitled "The Earned Income Tax Credit and Illegal Immigration," which outlines many flaws and loopholes in the Earned Income Tax Credit and other social welfare programs. According to the government statistics cited in this report, illegal immigrants are able to receive benefits from the EITC through various means, many of them fraudulent, but some of them technically legal. Rubenstein argues that this tax credit is particularly susceptible to such fraud, compared to other social welfare programs. Still, even Rubenstein concedes that "technically, EITC is available only to people with valid Social Security numbers." The ways people get around that requirement are varied, but they result from IRS policies exploiting legal loopholes, and they are not at issue in the debates over the 2006/2007 immigration bills. Though Reid did vote against it, Sessions amendment is, at best, an effort to close a loophole in one law with another loophole in a separate law. Ultimately, that was one technical point in a long amendment, which Reid joined the majority of his colleagues in opposing, anyway.

    Reid voted against another amendment, offered on May 25, 2006 by his Republican colleague John Ensign from Nevada, which would prevent people receiving adjustment to legal status under the immigration bill from getting retroactive tax credits from years prior to 2006. This is even less plausibly a point for Angle's claim, as this amendment targets people who, upon passage of the bill, would be legal residents of the United States. The best spin Angle could put on this vote would be to call those affected "former illegal aliens," but only people who would receive legal status under the bill would be affected, not current illegal immigrants.

    Finally, in a later debate on the stalled immigration reform bill, Reid himself introduced an amendment to clarify his opposition to allowing illegal immigrants to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit. His amendment explicitly states that "Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, may be construed to modify any provision of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 which prohibits illegal aliens from qualifying for the earned income tax credit under section 32 of such Code." Section 32 of the Internal Revenue Code states:
    (D) Limitation on eligibility of nonresident aliens The term "eligible individual" shall not include any individual who is a nonresident alien individual for any portion of the taxable year unless such individual is treated for such taxable year as a resident of the United States for purposes of this chapter by reason of an election under subsection (g) or (h) of section 6013. (These sections lay out the various exceptions for legal alien status) (E) Identification number requirement No credit shall be allowed under this section to an eligible individual who does not include on the return of tax for the taxable year- (i) such individual's taxpayer identification number, and (ii) if the individual is married (within the meaning of section 7703), the taxpayer identification number of such individual's spouse.
    (m) Identification numbers Solely for purposes of subsections (c)(1)(E) and (c)(3)(D), a taxpayer identification number means a social security number issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration (other than a social security number issued pursuant to clause (II) (or that portion of clause (III) that relates to clause (II)) of section 205(c)(2)(B)(i) of the Social Security Act).
    (all emphasized sections added)
    As pointed out in the Rubenstein article, there are loopholes in the application of the tax code, which enable some illegal immigrants to receive tax credits. The problem, according to Rubenstein, is that the IRS has begun issuing Income Taxpayer Identification Numbers that are not Social Security Numbers to illegal immigrants, in order to get them to pay taxes on their income. They don't report these activities to the INS or the Department of Homeland Security. Unfortunately, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities report cited by Rubenstein for this information is no longer available online for verification, but we don't think it matters for the purposes of fact-checking Angle's quote. This constitutes the exploitation of a legal loophole by the IRS, which is not at issue in the debate over the immigration reform bills of 2006 and 2007.

    Sessions' amendment does not address these creative IRS tactics, and there is no indication that his language would do anything to address them. Reid's own amendment upholds an interpretation of the Internal Revenue Code that "prohibits illegal aliens from qualifying for the earned income tax credit under section 32 of such Code," which defines a Taxpayer Identification Number as a Social Security Number. We concede it is possible that Reid is knowingly overlooking the loophole used by the IRS to exploit this provision, but we have seen no evidence to suggest that is the case. Due to the ambiguities and apparent loopholes allowing some illegal aliens to collect tax credits, we cannot say for certain that Angle's claim is definitively false. However, we feel that Reid's voting record on the immigration reform bills of 2006 and 2007 does not demonstrate support for "special tax breaks to illegal aliens."

    -- By Jon Mitchell, on behalf of NewsTrust Editors

Community Findings

False (1.6)
  • Jon Mitchell
    Jon Mitchell
    No way. Back to my original answer. Angle's quote deliberately seizes on one clause of one sentence of one failed amendment, which Reid joined the majority of his colleagues in opposing. He later introduced his own amendment to the immigration reform bill, which explicitly stated that illegal immigrants would not be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. There's a tiny splinter of truth in Angle's statement, but it doesn't fly.
  • Fabrice Florin
    Fabrice Florin
  • Philippe Habib
    Philippe Habib
    This is so extreme a statement it can't be true. I can just picture the tax form at the end of the year. multiply the number of illegal immigrants in the household by $345 and enter that amount in line 34.
  • Esther Wojcicki
    Esther Wojcicki
  • Kenneth L Salzman, PhD
    Kenneth L Salzman, PhD
    Aside from the claim being vastly overdrawn, this misrepresents the bill and the history of this and similar bills.
  • Bob Herrschaft
    Bob Herrschaft
    The statement is political rhetoric.
  • Ben Ross
    Ben Ross
  • Neil R. Anderson
    Neil R. Anderson
    Plainly true. All you have to do is read the text of Sen. Sessions amendment which Sen. Reid voted against. SA 4108
  • Sherwin Steffin
    Sherwin Steffin
  • Martha Rosler
    Martha Rosler
  • Douglas Hord
    Douglas Hord
  • Lloyd Skole
    Lloyd Skole
  • Susan Bunyan
    Susan Bunyan
  • Margaret McGowan
    Margaret McGowan
    No evidence presented to support the statement. Reid's votes on amendments to the comprehensive immigration reform bill that failed a couple of years ago, indicates he did support providing benefits to undocumented aliens as part of a comprehensive policy on how to integrate some of those aliens already here.
  • Charles Aylworth
    Charles Aylworth
  • Michael Shaver
    Michael Shaver
  • Melva Hackney
    Melva Hackney
  • Patrick McGuire
    Patrick McGuire
    I have a hard time believing anything this woman says. For Harry Reid or any politician to vote for special tax beaks for illegal immigrants would political suicide. I can't even see Congress bring this to the floor.
  • David Dresser
    David Dresser
  • Bourne Morris
    Bourne Morris
  • Bill White
    Bill White
    I have read the neutral comments from I see no support for any of Ms. Angle's claims there. The documents are complicated, and easy to misunderstand, so I may be missing something. I have also read Michelle Malkin's article, which includes the phrase "especially as the Obama jobs death toll mounts and economic confidence plummets". I'm not sure what "Obama jobs death toll" means, and I'm disinclined to think it means anything at all. I vote that this is overheated campaign rhetoric.
  • Robin Osborne McMullen
    Robin Osborne McMullen
  • Roland F. Hirsch
    Roland F. Hirsch
  • Lucy Sells
    Lucy Sells
  • Dyann Putman
    Dyann Putman
  • Preston Watts
  • CJ Livingston
    CJ Livingston
    Almost any time you see excess adjectives(special, illegal, etc.) you will find a lie or an exaggeration. cj
  • Geoffrey Hutchinson
    Geoffrey Hutchinson
  • Frank Whitman
    Frank Whitman
  • Jeff Harris
    Jeff Harris
    This lady wouldn't know the truth if it bit her in the...elbow!
  • Molly J. Moser
    Molly J. Moser
  • Don Bliss
    Don Bliss
    Not Sure
  • Brian Mann
    Brian Mann
  • Jacob Costa
    Jacob Costa
    Sharron Angle is proving her critics right by making radical claims about Harry Reid and not backing them up. One source, an article from the Las Vegas Review-Journal which is referenced by a CBS news article, reports that the statement comes from a 2006 measure created by Nevada Sen. John Ensign which keeps illegal immigrants from collecting tax credits prior to that year. Nowhere in that description does it state that Harry Reid voted for any tax breaks for illegal immigrants, but it implies that he didn’t vote for that bill, which Angle spun into a very misleading statement. But the real flaw in her argument is found in her own attack ad. The ad in question doesn’t provide a single source so people can find out the truth for herself. In contrast, Reid’s ad provides a few sources countering her claims, and his website links to the section of the Senate’s website about the bill he mentions in the ad. A quick glance shows him supporting the bill he proves that he supported an amendment keeping illegal immigrant workers from receiving Social Security benefits. The fact that Angle provides no evidence for her claims while Reid provides evidence to disprove them proves that this ad has no factual value whatsoever. Sources: (Angle’s attack ad) (Reid’s response ad)
  • J H Bud Paulson
    J H Bud Paulson
  • Colleen E Bushey
    Colleen E Bushey
  • Hector Pineda
    Hector Pineda
    Not Sure
  • William Nisen
    William Nisen
  • Thomas Jurich
    Thomas Jurich
  • Brennan Burke-Martin
    Brennan Burke-Martin
  • Marcelle Bessman
    Marcelle Bessman
  • Mary Murray
    Mary Murray
  • Rachel Tecza
    Rachel Tecza
  • Dick Ward
    Dick Ward
  • Les Aasheim
    Les Aasheim
  • Russ Soucy
    Russ Soucy
  • shirley wershba
    shirley wershba
  • Howard Powell
    Howard Powell
  • David Harlow
    David Harlow
    Not Sure
  • judith martin
    judith martin
  • Pat Denton
    Pat Denton
    This statement was a clear ploy and stirring up emotions in her fellow Republicans and, after examining different sources, has proven to be much more "false" than "true".
  • Michael E. Russell
    Michael E. Russell
    It can’t be true. Illegals don’t pay taxes, the Republicans told us so. You can’t get a tax break on taxes you don’t pay? Unless they are contradicting themselves, but that would mean … either she is lying or the Republicans were lying. Critical thinking skills. Logic. This is the bane of all Republicans.
  • Debbie Shapiro
    Debbie Shapiro
  • Kim-Mai Cutler
    Kim-Mai Cutler
  • Stacy Morrison
    Stacy Morrison
  • Sally Dunford
    Sally Dunford
  • Vincent J Iori
    Vincent J Iori
    Whoever thinks this is false is either on drugs, taking payoffs from Reid or is downright ignorant.
  • Daniel Callahan
    Daniel Callahan
  • Jay Albrecht
    Jay Albrecht
  • Laer Haider
    Laer Haider
  • Sissiboo Smith
    Sissiboo Smith
  • R L Guthrie
    R L Guthrie
  • Susan Avent Jacobs
    Susan Avent Jacobs
  • Mr Eric Bischoff
    Mr Eric Bischoff
    Not Sure
    Thou shalt not lie! The illegal immigrant question must be framed with better information, not lies or deception. NAFTA destroyed a lot of agrarian economies of Central & South America and our foreign policies and interference in these governments has resulted in a new wave of people looking for work wherever they can find it. These are not criminals, these are brave dedicated people who will do whatever is necessary to support their families. They work, some pay taxes and they contribute to our economy. They are also an easy blame target for disingenuous cowardly politicians and the ignorant masses who believe them. We are very close to recreating the fascist police state of the 30's. So much for never again.
  • CF Marsh
    CF Marsh
  • Krystyna Olsen
    Krystyna Olsen
  • Leonard Terango
    Leonard Terango
  • Scott Ross
    Scott Ross
  • Stephen G. Lewis
    Stephen G. Lewis
  • Robert A. Gagnon
    Robert A. Gagnon
  • Abner Faraday
  • Michelle Jacobcik
    Michelle Jacobcik
  • Stephen N
    Stephen N
  • Tamie Baggett
    Tamie Baggett

COMMENTS (13) Help