U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducts an investigation and examination of all naturalization (or citizenship) applicants to determine whether an applicant meets all pertinent eligibility requirements to become a U.S. citizen. One of the general requirements for naturalization is a good moral character (GMC). In general, an applicant must show that he or she has been and continues to be a person of GMC during the statutory period prior to filing and up to the time of the Oath of Allegiance.
In addition to the permanent bars to GMC, the INA (Immigration and Naturalization Act) and corresponding regulations include bars to GMC that are not permanent in nature. USCIS refers to these bars as “conditional bars.”
Among many, one conditional bar could be "Unlawful Acts". An unlawful act includes any act that is against the law, illegal or against moral or ethical standards of the community. The fact that an act is a crime makes any commission thereof an unlawful act.
One example of unlawful acts is a failure to file Tax Returns or Pay Taxes. An applicant for naturalization who fails to file tax returns or pay his or her taxes may be precluded from establishing GMC.
Also, don't lie on tax returns. If USCIS officer uncovers inconsistencies in facts submitted on the application for naturalization and material elements on the applicant’s tax return, such as marital status, number of children, and employment, the applicant may be precluded from establishing GMC due to an attempt to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by avoiding taxes.
There are three specific questions on the application for naturalization (citizenship) that pertains to tax returns:
Part 11: Additional Information (Yes or No)
6. Do you owe any overdue Federal, State, or local taxes?
7 (A) Have you ever not filed a Federal, State, or local tax return since you became a Permanent Resident?
(B) If "Yes", did you consider yourself to be a "non-U.S. resident"?
8. Have you called yourself a "non-U.S. resident" on a Federal, State, or local tax return since you became a Permanent Resident?
In addition, if you don't file tax returns, your child may not receive financial aid when he or she attends the college or university.
Seven Useful Tips:
1. File your tax returns at NYC tax prep centers or certified tax filers/preparers
2. If someone is giving you more tax return, you should not be happy as you are putting yourself at risk. Tax return documents stay with you for life
3. Make sure the tax preparer signs your income tax returns as the Preparer
4. Even if you made no money during the year, you should still file tax returns
5. Select Direct Deposit for your returns
6. Remember: if the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) makes an inquiry on you and found that you lied on your returns, you could be held liable to pay not only the defrauded amount but also hefty fines.
7. Cross check the accuracy of your tax returns with other professionals or consultants
Personally, I am aware of two cases as an example to share here: individual having to clear up his local taxes due in order to sit for citizenship interview and; family who had to pay back defrauded tax returns money plus enormous fines to the IRS after its unexpected inquiry.
Primary source: USCIS.GOV
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