Albor Ruiz, New York Daily News
I bet most of you didn’t know undocumented immigrants contributed more – much more – to the national treasury last year than General Electric. Surprised? Yet it’s true.
While GE – which earned a whopping $14 billion last year – is reported to have paid nothing, nada, zero in taxes (GE denies it), the undocumented paid billions in state and local taxes in 2010.
No, it’s not me talking; it’s the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (itepnet.org), a prestigious, nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that works on federal, state and local tax policy issues.
Obviously the old saying, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes,” is not to be believed anymore. Or rather, only half of it can be believed. Because death, of course, remains as dreaded and inevitable as ever, but with taxes the story is different.
“The rich are different from you and me,” the famous F. Scott Fitzgerald quote, is a much more accurate description of what’s going on in the country.
To no one’s surprise, taxes are still as certain for working people – and whatever is left of the middle class – as they ever were. But for, well, GE and other corporate giants, the only certainty is that many found ways to contribute as little to the country’s coffers as possible.
At the same time, Republicans in Washington are involved in a mighty struggle to protect the tax breaks of the country’s richest 2%, while happily proposing to cut the most basic social services to Americans who really need them.
Closer to home, Gov. Cuomo has announced the so-called millionaires tax will not be renewed once it expires in December, although since it was established in 2009 it has brought in as much as $5 billion annually. There is no doubt, when it comes to taxes the rich are really different.
Ironically the vilified undocumented population, among the poorest and most vulnerable in the country, does its part when it comes to taxes.
They pay sales taxes and property taxes – even if they rent, ITEP said. At least half of them pay income taxes. And, I believe, if they were ever legalized, close to 100% would do the same. “Add this all up,” ITEP said, “and it amounts to billions in revenue to state and local governments.”
ITEP estimates that households that are headed by undocumented immigrants (which may include members who are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants) paid $11.2 billion in state and local taxes l ast year. That included $1.2 billion in personal income taxes, $1.6 billion in property taxes and $8.4 billion in sales taxes.
New York is fourth in the country in tax revenue – $662.4 million – from households headed by undocumented immigrants, after California, Texas and Florida.
“These figures should be kept in mind as politicians and commentators continue with the seemingly endless debate over what to do with unauthorized immigrants already living in the United States,” ITEP wisely advises.
“[These] immigrants – and their family members – are adding value to the U.S. economy; not only as taxpayers, but as workers, consumers and entrepreneurs as well.”