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Undocumented Immigrants Actually Pay Taxes

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Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: Matt Cohen Photo / 1115, hasby

We’ve heard this a few times out here in the Rockies, where Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services has done a decent job of getting this info out to our ELCA congregational leaders.

Now comes a 3-part, Truthout investigative series on immigration that details the same reality: that undocumented immigrants pay a wide variety of taxes, including Social Security and Medicare taxes, without ever likely receiving the benefits of that taxation.

A key section from the first Truthout article:

A poll conducted in 2006 by ABC News and The Washington Post found that a third of all Americans said their biggest objection to undocumented immigrants is their use of “more public services than they pay for in taxes.” Many of these same people oppose comprehensive immigration reform for this reason, and among conservative pundits such as Bill O’Reilly the notion that undocumented immigrants pay tax at all has been derided as “crap.”

But reports by the Congressional Budget Office and the Social Security Administration confirm that undocumented immigrants in fact pay many different types of taxes, including sales tax, property tax, Social Security tax and income tax.

Francine Lipman, a professor of tax law at Chapman University, says the disinformation about the tax contributions of undocumented immigrants can be attributed to both “confusion about the system generally and . . . that we have a history of scapegoating people when times are tough, and maybe also when times are good.”

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