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Study details taxes paid by undocumented immigrants

Published on Tue, Apr 19, 2011

A study, the first of its kind, shows that undocumented immigrants pay sales taxes and property taxes, and at least half pay an income tax.

According to an Immigration Policy Center report released yesterday, tax day, the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy has estimated the state and local taxes paid in 2010 by households that are headed by unauthorized immigrants.

The report indicates:

These households may include members who are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants. Collectively, these households paid $11.2 billion in state and local taxes. That included $1.2 billion in personal income taxes, $1.6 billion in property taxes, and $8.4 billion in sales taxes.

The report shows that Florida collects $806.8 million, the third highest in the nation, in property and sales tax revenue from households headed by unauthorized immigrants. Florida does not have a state income tax.

Wendy Sefsaf, communications director for the American Immigration Council, tells The Florida Independent that the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy runs scenarios about what impacts states tax revenue. Sefsaf adds that the institute is able to take their models, databases and assumptions on different groups and come up with tax contributions and that is what they did for the undocumented.

Sefsaf adds these number have never been examined, because the unauthorized population is hard to track and “we make a lot of guesses of their contribution.”

“The restrictionist movement in the U.S. spends all their time letting everyone know how much [undocumented immigrants] cost us, and they try to ignore the fact that they contribute, Sefsaf says. “We are not trying to say there are not costs associated with people, there are costs associated with everyone, but we are trying to balance out the debate. We can have a debate about who can stay and who has to go, but we have to do that with a full plate of information.”

She points out that one of the really important considerations is that undocumented immigrants are paying taxes. While only half pay income taxes, the undocumented are paying for groceries and rent — sales and property taxes.

“So Florida and every state has to take a look at these numbers and take this into consideration when deciding what to do at the state level,” she says, “and how to push the federal government to make some choices.”

Published in the American Independent | Read Article