At a round-table discussion at Rancho High School in North Las Vegas, Nevada, Hillary Clinton had a conversation with DREAMers about her commitment to fighting for them and their families, and to passing comprehensive immigration reform once and for all.
“In New York, which I know a little bit about because I represented it for eight years and I live there now, our undocumented workers in New York pay more in taxes than some of the biggest corporations in New York.” –Hillary Clinton, round-table in North Las Vegas, May 5, 2015.
Forbes reported that undocumented immigrants pay sales taxes. Moreover, one estimate says that illegal immigrants paid $12 billion in Social Security taxes in 2010–using false or duplicative Social Security numbers. Even companies that pay little or no federal income tax pay lots of other taxes. It is also not clear how much illegal immigrants take out. President Obama’s aggressive executive action on immigration is still being litigated in the courts.
Tax refunds for the affected illegal immigrants have become controversial. The IRS says that illegal immigrants can file and claim refunds for the last three years under the Earned Income Tax Credit. That is the same refundable tax credit that is responsible for billions in fraudulent refunds. IRS Commissioner Koskinen confirmed this, explaining the seemingly bizarre result to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). What if you never reported any income or never filed a return?
Interestingly enough, under President Obama’s executive action, an illegal immigrant can: (1) get a Social Security number; (2) claim the Earned Income Tax Credit for the three open tax years; and (3) IRS sends three years of tax refunds. No matter that you never paid taxes, never filed a return, worked off the books, etc.
Here are the facts that were reported by The Washington Post:
The Clinton campaign initially pointed to an opinion column by Albor Ruiz in the Daily News, dated April 20, 2015, titled, “Corporate giants often get huge tax breaks, while poor, undocumented immigrants have paid billions in state taxes.”
We often warn that opinion columns are not necessarily as good a source of information as articles based on straight news reporting. Ruiz, for instance, relied on facts on corporate taxes from the Web site of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), which does not disclose sources for its assertions. Ruiz claimed that although “many of these corporate behemoths pay zero taxes, the eternally vilified undocumented immigrants in New York paid $1.1 billion in state taxes in 2012.”
The figure about taxes paid by undocumented workers comes from a report issued by the left-leaning Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy. We have no major issues with the methodology used in that report, except to note that it is a very broad estimate, based on assumptions about the number of immigrants, the average size of immigrant families, the range of income of immigrant workers, the number of homeowners and effective tax rates. A change in any one of those assumptions would alter the result.
For New York, for example, the report estimated that in 2012 there were 873,000 illegal immigrants, with an average family income of $32,600. Eighteen percent were estimated to be homeowners. They supposedly paid $566 million in sales and excise taxes, $186 million in state and local income taxes, and $342 million in property taxes, for a total of more than $1 billion. (Note that more than 50 percent of the figure comes from sales taxes, which every person and company pays just anytime something is purchased.)
I highly recommend she do a better job of fact checking.