undocumented immigrants and taxation

The new comments feature on the Miami Herald website seems to get some people going. The hot topic today was, of course, immigration.

Sadly, the exchanges quickly deteriorated into squabbles about front lawn barbeques and illegaly parked cars. Anyhow, there’s one constant misconception that keeps popping up along with the issue of undocumented immigrants, and frankly, it bothers the hell out of me. So I figured I’d do a smidgen of a public service announcement by rounding up some quotes that run up a few numbers on the matter:

“According to the U.S. tax code,” says Robert W. Alcorn, a Texas CPA, “non-citizens who reside in the U.S. for more than 183 days [generally] meet the definition of a ‘tax resident,’ or a ‘resident for tax purposes.’ They are “subject to the tax laws as if they were citizens (with some minor differences).” [Jennifer & Peter Wipf]

“About 366,000 returns were filed using individual taxpayer identification numbers in 2001, according to IRS data from that year. People with the tax numbers reported wages of almost $7 billion and paid almost $305 million in taxes, according to the IRS.” [Deborah Kong]

“Undocumented immigrants pay taxes of $7 billion annually because their paychecks are subject to income tax and Social Security deductions. They are not eligible for benefits from most public programs, however.” [National Immigration Forum via ERIC Digests]

“In 2004, contributions by illegal immigrants made up about 10 percent of the Social Security surplus – the difference between what the system takes in and what it doles out.” [Ruben Navarrete Jr]

As far as state taxes are concerned, at least here in Florida, we all pay them in the form of sales taxes. Regardless of legal status.

1 Comment so far

  1. Miamista (unregistered) on May 17th, 2006 @ 5:38 pm

    I’m nt sure if a lot of this isn’t about front yard bb-cues, brightly painted suburban homes, language and cars on lawns. Seriously. This whole thing seems to be essentially about the cultural divide. It is also about political power. Someone needs to take off the gloves and deal with the issues involving assimilation. What assimilation is necessary to be an “American” and what does the dominant culture just have to accept (in terms of new cultural phenomena)? How much of the popular characterizations of Latinos behavior as un-American and destructive is just a cover for racism?

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