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We pay taxes... We want to do that. It's something most of the people we know have to do —Mother of 3, who is in the U.S. illegally

SALT LAKE CITY — As millions of Utahns scrambled to get their taxes done before the deadline, so did the state's thousands of undocumented workers, the so-called "invisible taxpayers."

This year has been another busy season for tax preparer Barbara Fuertes, who has many clients who are in the U.S. illegally. "They're mostly in construction, landscaping, cleaning services, janitorial," she said.

Fuertes said she helped more undocumented workers file returns and pay taxes in 2012 than ever before in her eight years on the job. 

"Probably about five times more than I remember," she said.

Some use stolen Social Security numbers in applying for work, while others get an individual taxpayer ID number, something the IRS issues to people without Social Security numbers to allow them to file tax returns.

A divorced mother of three kids, who did not want to be identified for security reasons, she's been in the U.S. illegally for 15 years since overstaying a student visa through which she received a Social Security number.  She said she pays taxes every year.

"We pay taxes," she said. "We want to do that. It's something most of the people we know have to do."

The woman has worked at a bank, a mortgage company and a school, among other jobs, paying taxes out for what she described as a "civic responsibility."

"You have to pay taxes," she said. "That's the way that you know that you have for sure some kind of security."

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She said she is holding out hope that if the law changes to allow a path to citizenship, authorities will take her faithful tax paying into account.

"If in the future things change, of course they're going to look at our records," she said.

Critics who want tougher enforcement say it's absurd for the government to work with people it should be deporting. Critics on the other side argue that if the government collects taxes from immigrants, those same people should be able to benefit from that work.

E-mail: jdaley@ksl.com