Originally Published in USA Today
Danae King – March 18, 2021
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Every year, Arturo pays thousands of dollars in taxes from the revenue produced by his central Ohio-based painting company.
That’s because Arturo, whose last name is not being used for his safety, is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico — one of about 6 million who pay taxes annually, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
A report from the office shows that 50% to 75% of undocumented immigrants pay billions in taxes each year — and have been since the Internal Revenue Service created a program 25 years ago allowing people without a Social Security number to file taxes.
When it comes to state and local taxes, undocumented immigrants pay more than $11 billion a year, according to a 2017 report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonpartisan, nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. In Ohio, they paid $83.2 million in state and local taxes in 2017, according to the institute.
“These people are not eligible for those benefits, and many times they’re paying into the system like we are. It’s frustrating to hear that a lot.”
Still, many attorneys recommend their undocumented clients pay taxes, Rodriguez Bell said.
“The reason for that is that, one, it’s income they’ve been paying in and are likely entitled to a refund of some sort,” Rodriguez Bell said. “Then, also because in the future, even if they don’t have a current immigration case pending or even if they’re not eligible for relief at this time… oftentimes you want to demonstrate good moral character and that you’ve been an upstanding citizen while you’ve been here.”
Years of tax returns also establish that a person has been living in the United States, she said.
To some, though, the issue is not whether or not undocumented immigrants pay taxes, said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based conservative think tank.
“There’s this sort of implicit assumption that if you pay your taxes everything else is fine,” he said. “Paying your taxes doesn’t wipe away everything else that you’ve done.”