Annapolis, MD- Legislation that recently became law that makes some low-income undocumented immigrants eligible for an expansion of state and local earned income tax credits will encourage more undocumented immigrants to come to Maryland, according to Senate Minority Whip Michael Hough.

The legislation, SB0128/HB0143-Income Tax -Child Tax Credit and Expansion of the Earned Income Credit, changes the “calculation of Maryland earned income credit to allow certain residents to claim the credit.”

It permits “certain taxpayers with federal adjusted gross income for the taxable year that is $6,000 or less to claim a credit against the state income tax for each qualified child in an amount equal to $500.” It also permits “certain taxpayers to claim a refund in the amount of any excess credit” by “applying the act to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2019, but before January 1, 2023.”

The legislation is estimated to decrease General Fund revenues by more than $65 million in FY 2021 and by more than $69 million in FY 2023, according to the bill’s fiscal summary. Eligibility for the tax credits expires on June 30, 2023. The legislation became law without Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature earlier this month.

“Absolutely,” Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll) told in an interview earlier this week.

Hough added: “The state of Maryland has done a number of things over the years from providing in-state tuition, providing scholarships, providing drivers licenses-to a number of our larger counties putting in place sanctuary policies where they won’t enforce the law and they won’t cooperate with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). And of course, when you put those policies in place you are making it a friendly state for people who in the country illegally.”

Hough said the new law is “particularly bad” because it essentially provides a “stimulus check for people who are illegal immigrants.”

Sen. Johnny Ray Salling (R-Baltimore County) echoed similar sentiments.

“It’s something that we already know is not going to be good. Because we want to help out our American taxpaying citizens. And what they are doing is they are helping out undocumented people, which doesn’t benefit our constituents or our state.”

Salling, like Hough, said the law will encourage more undocumented immigrants to come to the state.

“It encourages illegals. It encourages people that are undocumented. It encourages people to come to Maryland and to be here and live here and get things for free.”

But not everyone said they oppose the law.

Sen. Cory McCray (D-Baltimore City) said the law ensures basic fairness to all low-income Marylanders.

“At the end of the day, we have to make sure that low-income workers, who are having challenges in this economy similar to every other family in America…We need to make sure that that is recognized.”

McCray held firm when asked by if non-citizen Marylanders deserve expanded tax credits.

“They are still paying taxes to the state of Maryland.”

Most undocumented immigrants file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) since they do not have a Social Security number.

An estimated 275,000 undocumented immigrants live in Maryland, according to a 2019 study by the Pew Research Foundation.

This article originally appeared on on Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

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