Nonetheless, I'm not an expert (most of us bloggers aren't either).
This is from an article I read in USA Today in early 2008 (I read it in TIME as well, but can't find that one right now) goes right in the face of many arguments about deporting the 11 million illegals we have.
Illegal immigrants are paying taxes to Uncle Sam, experts agree. Just how
much they pay is hard to determine because the federal government doesn't fully
tally it. But the latest figures available indicate it will amount to billions
of dollars in federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes this year. One
rough estimate puts the amount of Social Security taxes alone at around $9 billion per year.
Paycheck withholding collects much of the federal tax from illegal
workers, just as it does for legal workers.
The Internal Revenue Service doesn't track a worker's immigration
status, yet many illegal immigrants fearful of deportation won't risk the
government attention that will come from filing a return even if they might
qualify for a refund. Economist William Ford of Middle Tennessee State
University says there are no firm figures on how many such taxpayers there
"The real question is how many of them pay more than they owe. There are
undoubtedly hundreds of thousands of people in that situation," Ford said.
"It's a mistake to think that no illegal immigrants pay taxes. They
definitely do," said Martha Pantoja, who has been helping Hispanic immigrants
this tax season as an IRS-certified volunteer tax preparer for the non-profit
Nashville Wealth Building Coalition.
Pantoja said she has helped a number of construction workers who,
because they are classified as independent contractors by their employers and
have no taxes withheld, owe big tax bills come April. Beyond income tax, they
have to pay the full Social Security and Medicare taxes due.
Social Security Administration estimates that about three-quarters of illegal
workers pay taxes that contribute to the overall solvency of Social Security and
The impact on Social Security is significant, though, because most
of that money is never claimed by the people who pay it but instead helps cover
retirement checks to legal workers.
"Overall, any type of immigration is a net positive to Social Security.
The more people working and paying into the system, the better," Hinkle said.
"It does help the system remain solvent."
The Social Security Administration
drew from census and Immigration and Customs Enforcement data in 2007 to project
the effects of higher and lower immigration patterns.
If net immigration is
high at 1.3 million people a year, the SSA's combined trust fund would be
exhausted in 2043. But the fund runs out four years earlier if
annual net immigration amounts to about half that — 472,500 legal immigrants and
250,000 illegal immigrants.
In 2006, then IRS Commission Mark Everson told Congress that
"many illegal aliens, utilizing ITINs, have been reporting tax liability to the
tune of almost $50 billion from 1996 to 2003."
An IRS spokesman said
more recent figures aren't available.
The Social Security and Medicare taxes
from mismatched W2s for the same period was $41.4 billion,
That adds up to roughly $90 billion in federal taxes during
they eight-year period.
The IRS defends the ITIN system, despite
criticism that some illegal immigrants have used it to open bank accounts, get
mortgages and establish a record of residency and taxpaying they hope might
someday lead to legal status.
"The ITIN program is bringing taxpayers into the system," Everson told
Ford, of Middle Tennessee State University, said a majority of
economists agree that illegal immigrants are a net benefit for the U.S.
He said the tax contributions from illegal immigrants, including sales
taxes, property taxes and excise taxes (such as the gas tax), are
He calculates that illegal immigrants contributed $428 billion
dollars to the nation's $13.6 trillion gross domestic product in 2006.
That number assumes illegal immigrants are 30% less productive than other
"If anything we need more immigrants coming into the country, not less,
especially with the baby boomers retiring," he said.