Skip to Content

Programs:

In Arizona, Illegal Immigrants Pay Taxes, Too

Published on Fri, Apr 22, 2011

In honor of Tax Day, the Immigration Policy Center posted a reminder that often gets ignored in the illegal immigration debate, especially those who accuse illegal immigrants of mooching off the system from public schools to hospitals.

Using a methodology from the nonpartisan Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) and information from the Pew Hispanic Center figures on each state's illegal immigration population using numbers from the 2010 Census, the ITEP came up with an estimate on state-specific tax payments.

Yes, immigrants pay taxes, too:

There were an estimated 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. as of 2010. Pew has also estimated the unauthorized population for each state. Pew has found that unauthorized immigrants are likely to be less educated than native-born U.S. citizens and legal immigrants, and they tend to work in low-wage jobs. Thus the average family income of the unauthorized population is lower than the average family income for U.S. citizens or legal immigrants. The average income of a household headed by an unauthorized immigrant is estimated to be $36,000; 10 percent of which goes towards remittances to family members in countries of origin.

According to the report, Arizona is in the top 10 of state receiving the most revenue from households headed by illegal immigrants. In 2010, Arizona's illegal immigrants paid $38 million in personal income taxes $45 million in property taxes and $348 million in sales taxes:

Sales tax is automatic, so it is assumed that unauthorized residents would pay sales tax at similar rates to U.S. citizens and legal immigrants with similar income levels.

Similar to sales tax, property taxes are hard to avoid, and unauthorized immigrants are assumed to pay the same property taxes as others with the same income level. ITEP assumes that most unauthorized immigrants are renters, and only calculates the taxes paid by renters.

Income tax contributions by the unauthorized population are less comparable to other populations because many unauthorized immigrants work “off the books” and income taxes are not automatically withheld from their paychecks. ITEP conservatively estimates that 50 percent of unauthorized immigrants are paying income taxes.

Published in the Tucson Weekly | Read Article