In stark contrast to the angry “tea party” activists who marched on the nation’s capital today to protest excessive taxation, crowds of peaceful immigration reform supporters gathered outside post offices in several cities yesterday and today bearing signs with slogans stating “We Love Taxes!” and “Viva Taxes!” The demonstrators wanted to display that while tea party protesters are retaliating against what they perceive as their “burden” to the government, there are millions of undocumented immigrants who are eager for a chance to be brought in to American civil society and pay taxes as part of their civic duty.
In January, the Immigration Policy Center and the Center for American Progress found that legalizing undocumented immigrants through comprehensive immigration reform would generate $4.5 to $5.4 billion in additional net tax revenue within three years. The study predicted that ultimately the benefits of immigration reform would go beyond pure tax revenue and would yield at least $1.5 trillion in cumulative U.S. gross domestic product over 10 years. It also found that any mass deportation strategy would result in a cumulative reduction in GDP of $2.6 trillion over 10 years.
While many undocumented immigrants don’t receive W-2 forms because they are paid under the table and therefore can’t pay federal income taxes, there are millions more immigrants who are able to pay taxes by using an alternative to the Social Security number offered by the IRS. As a result, the Social Security Administration estimates that about three-quarters of all undocumented workers already pay taxes that contribute to Social Security and Medicare coffers. In 2005, the last year for which figures are available, undocumented immigrants contributed approximately $9 billion in federal income taxes. Meanwhile, the Immigration Policy Center has found that, on average, each immigrant — regardless of his or her immigration status — ends up paying between $20,000 and $80,000 more in taxes than that individual consumes in public benefits.
Later today, the Reform Immigration for America Campaign will be delivering blank tax forms to the office of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). Advocates hope to show that, by submitting tax forms that could’ve been filled out and sent to the IRS along with millions in tax revenue, they are illustrating the cost of inaction. Many have suggested that Hutchison is open to immigration reform, with some pundits suggesting it would be a smart career move after the devastating loss of her bid for Texas governor.