Snap 2018-05-17 at 21.39.42

They have you bamboozled!


One of the biggest misconceptions about undocumented immigrants is that they don’t pay any taxes. In his first address to Congress, President Trump set the tone for his coming immigration agenda when he said immigration costs US taxpayers “billions of dollars a year.”

A 2017 Gallup poll that asked survey respondents “whether immigrants to the United States are making the [tax] situation in the country better or worse” found that 41 percent said, “worse,” while only 23 percent said “better” (33 percent said they had “no effect”).

The reality is far different. Immigrants who are authorized to work in the United States pay the same taxes as US citizens. And, contrary to the persistent myth, undocumented immigrants do in fact pay taxes too. Millions of undocumented immigrants file tax returns each year, and they are paying taxes for benefits they can’t even use.

The best estimates come from research by the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington, DC, think tank, which suggests that about half of undocumented workers in the United States file income tax returns. The most recent IRS data, from 2015, shows that the agency received 4.4 million income tax returns from workers who don’t have Social Security numbers, which includes a large number of undocumented immigrants. That year, they paid $23.6 billion in income taxes.

Those undocumented workers paid taxes for benefits they can’t even use, like Social Security and Medicare. They also aren’t eligible for benefits like the earned income tax credit. But the IRS still expects unauthorized immigrants to file their taxes, and many of them do so.

Filing taxes helps immigrants create a paper trail to show when they entered the country and how long they’ve been contributing tax dollars. Many are hoping it will help them get legal status one day. That has happened in past reform efforts, and one of the first requirements is usually to prove that a person has been paying taxes. That was the case for the undocumented youth granted temporary work permits under President Obama’s deportation relief program, known as DACA. With the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda, however, their chance of getting papers seems remote for now.


“Undocumented immigrants’ nationwide average effective tax rate is an estimated 8 percent,” the report said. “To put this in perspective, the top 1 percent of taxpayers pay an average nationwide effective tax rate of just 5.4 percent.”

Current Tax Contributions

  • According to ITEP’s estimates, which do not count federal taxes, undocumented immigrants paid $11.6 billion in state and local taxes in 2013. This includes:
    • $7 billion in sales taxes,
    • $1.1 billion in income taxes, and
    • $3.6 billion in property taxes.
  • Tax payments ranged from $2.2 million in Montana, which is home to only 4,000 undocumented immigrants, to $3.1 billion in California, with an undocumented population numbering more than 3 million.
  • Six states—California, Texas, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and Florida—derived the most revenue from taxes paid by undocumented immigrants
  • In 2013, the average effective state and local tax rate of undocumented immigrants—that is, the share of their total income which they paid in taxes—was 8 percent, compared to 5.4 percent for the top 1 percent of all taxpayers.

Most corporations pay nothing, they got us hating one another, nice they win again.


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