Inside Sources: “On Tax Day, Remember the Contributions of Unauthorized Immigrants”

by Joseph McKeown

Millions of Americans have filed their taxes in advance of the April 18 “Tax Day” deadline. And it’s not only US citizens paying taxes. Undocumented immigrants also make immense federal, state, and local tax contributions, as Tom Jawetz at the Center for American Progress points out. A recent study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) claims that undocumented immigrants pay an estimated yearly $11.64 billion in state and local taxes, adding significant amounts of money to state and local budgets. Tax contributions by undocumented immigrants also help to ensure the solvency of federal programs such as Social Security—the Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration reported that in 2010 undocumented immigrants paid a net $12 billion in tax revenue into Social Security—even though many undocumented immigrants are unlikely to benefit from the programs themselves.

The study also claims providing a pathway for legal status in the US for undocumented workers would translate into even more tax revenue. ITEP’s analysis claims that combined state and local tax contributions of the nation’s eleven million undocumented immigrants would “increase by more than $800 million under full implementation of the administration’s 2012 and 2014 executive actions and by more than $2.1 billion under comprehensive immigration reform.” Meg Wiehe, ITEP State Tax Policy Director, said in a statement: “Regardless of the politically contentious nature of immigration reform, the data show undocumented immigrants greatly contribute to our nation’s economy, not just in labor but also with tax dollars. With immigration policy playing a key role in state and national debates and President Obama’s 2014 executive action facing review by the Supreme Court, accurate information about the tax contributions of undocumented immigrants is needed now more than ever.”

Texas, which sued the Obama administration over plans to expand the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) program, would reportedly see an additional $154 million yearly in new tax revenues each year if Obama’s executive actions were put in place. Moreover, the Joint Committee on Taxation found that blocking the deferred action initiatives would increase the size of the federal deficit by $7.5 billion over ten years. The Supreme Court will issue a ruling for Texas's lawsuit, United States v. Texas, this summer.