Photo: AP Photo
It’s a myth that illegal immigrants don’t pay taxes, says Dulce Guerroro, a self-confessed illegal immigrant living in Mableton, Georgia.Guerrero’s whole family is undocumented, except for her 13-year old younger brother, who was born in the U.S. and is a U.S. citizen. She says that they all work and pay taxes through their Internal Revenue System (IRS) issued Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs).
“People always, always point out that we don’t pay taxes, which is a complete lie,” Guerrero told Business Insider.
“We have a government issued tax ID number. So the government knows very well who we are. They know very well where we live and they have all of our information. I am sure if they ever wanted to pick us up, since they have our tax ID number, they have our information. We pay taxes just like everyone else.”
Business Insider has interviewed four illegal immigrants in the past few weeks and all have said they have filed and paid taxes through an ITIN. However, the IRS is prohibited by law to share any information regarding the tax payers with other governmental agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security. “The internal revenue code really does not differentiate between legal or illegal status,” IRS representative Patricia Kirk told Fox News.
According to the Associated Press, in 2006 the then IRS Commissioner, Mark Everson, agreed with Guerrero when he told Congress that “the ITIN program is bringing taxpayers into the system.” Furthermore, having ITIN enables immigrants to contribute to the U.S. economy by enabling them to open bank accounts, obtain mortgages and establish a record of residency and taxpaying.
Social Security Administration (SSA) has also taken a positive outlook on immigration in the past. “Overall, any type of immigration is a net positive to Social Security. The more people working and paying into the system, the better,” Mark Hinkle, Deputy Press Officer at SSA told the AP in 2008. “It does help the system remain solvent.”
While the IRS does not have an estimate of how many illegal immigrants pay income tax, it has been issuing ITINs to foreigners without a Social Security number since 1996. Everson told Congress “many illegal aliens, utilising ITINs, have been reporting tax liability to the tune of almost $50 billion from 1996 to 2003.”
Hinkle told the AP that the Social Security and Medicare taxes from mismatched W2s for the same period was $41.4 billion, adding up to about $90 billion in federal taxes during the eight-year period.
These numbers are fairly similar to those that Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy came up with when calculating taxes paid by undocumented immigrants. Their final figure was $11.2 billion in 2010. Check out the breakdown of this figure by state:
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