For All We Know, Undocumented Immigrants Pay A Higher Tax Rate Than Donald Trump

The workers Trump likes to insult are American taxpayers, too–to the tune of more than $11 billion a year.

For All We Know, Undocumented Immigrants Pay A Higher Tax Rate Than Donald Trump
[Photo: Flickr user Gage Skidmore]

We don’t know how much tax Donald Trump pays because he won’t release his returns. But we do know how much undocumented immigrants contribute annually. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy’s 50 state study, America’s “11 million” pay $11.64 billion a year in state and local taxes.


That includes $3.1 billion in California, home to more than 3 million undocumented immigrants, and $2.2 billion in Montana (population: 4,000) and $1.3 billion in New York. “The truth is that undocumented immigrants living in the United States pay billions of dollars each year in state and local taxes,” the research says.

ITEP, the research arm of the Citizens for Tax Justice, a progressive D.C. think tank, says undocumented immigrants pay a higher effective state and local tax rate (8%) than average top 1% wealthy taxpayers today (5.4%). It would be of no surprise then, if most undocumented immigrants paid higher tax rates than Trump.

Given that the 11 million are so generous with their money, ITEP argues for making honest legal residents of them and collecting their taxes. It details how much more the government could have collected if President Obama’s executive action on immigration had stood (as it is, he was stopped by the Supreme Court). Personal income taxes revenues would have risen $442 million, sales by $239 million, and property taxes by $123 million, for a total $805 million a year.

“These tax contributions would increase significantly if all undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States were granted a pathway to citizenship as part of a comprehensive immigration reform,” the report says.

If you count up the contribution of undocumented immigrants, it makes sense to keep those people here. No government should think about losing so much potential income.

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About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.