NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 13, 2006

Overall, the taxes paid by immigrant households in the Washington, D.C., region are on par with those paid by native-born Americans, say researchers at the Urban Institute. However, the illegal immigrant portion of taxes is less.

Using analysis of the 2000 U.S. Census data, the researchers found that:

  • The average household of illegal immigrants and those with temporary protected status (applying for refugee status) paid less than 2 percent of the region's taxes, even though they made up more than 4 percent of total households.
  • Households of illegal immigrants (22 percent of the immigrant population) and those with temporary protected status paid 19 percent in taxes.
  • Overall, illegal immigrants paid less than $1 of every $5 they earn in taxes. That is partly because they earn less but also because many are paid off the books and escape payroll taxes.

Illegal immigrants pay other taxes, the researchers note.

  • Those using fake social security numbers pay into the Social Security system without ever receiving benefits, and pay income taxes without ever filing a return to determine whether they have overpaid.
  • In addition, illegals, together with immigrants who held temporary protected status, paid about $1 billion in taxes unrelated to income, mostly sales, property and consumption taxes.

To help ensure income tax payment, the researchers recommend publicly funded English and adult education for immigrants, which it says would boost incomes and tax payments. They also advise granting work permits to illegal immigrants as a way to increase payroll tax contributions.

However, some experts point out that they might qualify for more public services than their tax payments.

Source: Karin Brulliard, "Study: Immigrants Pay Tax Share," Washington Post, June 5, 2006

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