Editorial: Immigrants Do Pay Taxes

One of the myths most frequently exploited to justify the persecution of undocumented people is that they are a financial burden for the country. The reality is quite different.
Editorial: Immigrants Do Pay Taxes
Foto: EFE

They are taxpayers who contribute a larger percentage in taxes than other U.S. citizens, and the benefits they would be entitled to are distributed to other sectors of the population.

Undocumented people pay an estimated $11.74 billion per year, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). Of these, $7 billion are sales taxes, $3.3 billion are property taxes and $1.1 billion are income taxes. They pay an additional $13 billion in Social Security contributions.

Not having papers does not prevent undocumented people from paying taxes – the ITIN (Individual Tax Payer Number) number has been used instead of the Social Security number since 1996 – but they are unable to receive their benefits.

This means that, for instance, undocumented people only get back 1 of every 13 dollars they contribute to Social Security because they often use fake numbers and their employers file tax statements that are not used.

This money has a “positive effect” in the state of the federal program’s finances, according to a Social Security Administration report from 2013. That means that a significant portion of the benefits that retired U.S. citizens and legal residents receive are a gift courtesy of undocumented workers.

This is also the case with other taxes that fund public assistance programs: Undocumented people contribute, but they do not have a right to those benefits.

The ITEP also estimates that the tax rate paid by undocumented people rounds 8%, that is, more than the 5.4% effective tax rate paid by the top 1% of the population.

Some years, the total amount – not the percentage – undocumented people contribute to the IRS is also said to be higher than what President Donald Trump pays, as he is able to evade paying thanks to multiple deductions and an army of accountants. It is well-known that he has avoided paying on a number of occasions, and it is believed that he is refusing to reveal his taxes because there is more to be known about that.

It is immensely unfair that one of the reasons cited to persecute undocumented people today is that they supposedly cost the government too much money when they contribute more than they receive.

And it is ironic to see a multimillionaire like Trump spearheading this movement, a man who thinks that not paying taxes makes him “smart.”