Undocumented alien's filing with IRS satisfies reporting requirements
Case name: Villalobos v. Lowry Construction and Framing, Inc., 17 FLWCLB 115 (Fla. JCC, Tallahassee 2010).
Ruling: A Florida judge of compensation claims awarded an undocumented alien temporary total disability benefits even though at the time of his accident, he had not filed a tax return in four years. Because the employee timely filed a tax return after the accident, and before April 15 of the following year, in which he informed the IRS of the wages that he earned with the employer, he satisfied the reporting requirement.
What it means: Where a Florida claimant, who has never previously filed a tax return, files a return before April 15 of the year after he suffers a work injury and in that return informs the IRS of the wages that he earned with the employer, he has satisfied the reporting requirement.
The claimant, an undocumented alien, was working as a carpenter when he suffered severe and disabling injuries. He testified that he earned $14 per hour and worked a 35-hour workweek for an average weekly wage of $490. His physicians had not released him for work, and he had not reached maximum medical improvement. The employer/carrier argued that the claimant earned no wages because he did not report his earnings to the IRS for federal income tax purposes. Therefore, the earnings he received from his employer, who paid the claimant in cash and did not withhold taxes or report to the IRS the wages he paid to the claimant, could not be the basis for calculating his average weekly wage. The JCC disagreed, explaining that for all of the earnings the claimant received from his employer in 2009, there was no requirement to report income "for federal income tax purposes" until April 15, 2010.
The claimant, who admittedly never filed federal income tax returns although he has been in this country more than four years, did timely file after he was injured. This satisfied the reporting requirement in Florida statutes. The fact that an amended or corrected tax return was filed to correct the claimant's country of origin was irrelevant.
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November 8, 2010
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