Undocumented workers more patriotic than Trump…
If we had a microphone that could hover over the United States during tax time, the collective mumbling and grumbling—not to mention the ear-reddening panoply of curse words—that the mic would pick up would be deafening. Fact is, except for one group (discussed below), most folks do not like paying taxes. But ultimately, even if kicking and screaming, we do our patriotic duty: file our tax returns and pay our fair share of taxes.
Paying taxes is a patriotic and moral act…
Americans often view patriotism only through the prism of military service. But patriotism has many dimensions, and a principal one is paying taxes. Simply put, the country—and states and municipalities—could not function without a regular, dependable money stream, a financial foundation. For, taxes are what fund Social Security and Medicare and the myriad other things we rely on and even take for granted: public schools and teacher salaries, firefighters, police officers, streets and highways, parks, street lights, public recreation/neighborhood centers, Pell grants for low-income college students, veterans benefits, etc.
And there’s a moral and empathetic aspect to paying taxes. By paying your fair share of taxes, you are helping millions of Americans who are not as fortunate as you are. Children who rely on discounted or free school lunches. Single parents who need food stamps to feed their families. People, including children, who need health care but cannot afford insurance.
For religious folk, there is a theological aspect to tax paying. All religions have a conceptual counterpart to the Christian principles enunciated in Matthew 25: 34-40: When I was hungry, you fed me. When I was thirsty, you gave me drink. When I was naked, you clothed me. When I was sick, you tended to me. And the commandment articulated in Matthew 22: 39: “…Love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Source 1)
Trump’s undocumented workers pay more taxes than he does…
It is absolutely shameful that even as hard-working Americans—truck drivers, house cleaners, landscapers, civil servants, farm workers, teachers, nurses, restaurant workers, retirees, etc.—pay thousands of dollars in income taxes, the president of the United States, a self-proclaimed billionaire, paid only $750 in 2016 and $750 in 2017 in taxes and zero dollars in 10 of the 15 years between 2000-2015, according to an analysis by the New York Times. (Source 2) Even the people Donald Trump demonizes, undocumented workers, are more patriotic and pay more taxes than he does.
According to W-2 forms reviewed by The New York Daily News, an undocumented worker—a cook—who worked at the Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. paid $29,366 in federal income taxes over the 10-year period (2008-2018) he worked for Trump. (Source 3) That’s $2,936.60 per year, which amounts to $1,436.60 more than Trump paid in taxes in 2016 and 2017 combined. Another undocumented former Trump employee showed a reporter his W-2 form that showed that he paid $5,332 in income tax in 2014 while working for Trump. (Source 4)
Yet another undocumented housekeeper who worked at the New Jersey Trump National Golf Club paid thousands of dollars in income taxes over the several years she worked for Trump. She doesn’t mind paying her fair share of taxes to keep the country running and to contribute to the country she loves. “I’m really happy. Because [immigrants] do what is needed … We want to pay taxes and be part of America.” (Source 4) Tax records are proof of their patriotism and commitment to the country should they later apply to legalize their status. (Source 5)
[Undocumented workers aren’t the only people who pay more taxes than Trump. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average U.S. household paid $8,831 in federal income taxes in 2019, which is $8,081 more than the $750 that the New York Times reported Trump paid in 2016 and in 2017.] (Source 3)]
The above gives the lie to…
The above gives the lie to the oft-repeated canard of the anti-immigrant crowd that undocumented workers don’t pay taxes. The truth of the matter is that undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States pay billions of dollars each year in federal, state, and local taxes.
A 2016 study by the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy (ITEP) estimated that undocumented immigrants paid about $1.1 billion in personal income taxes (assuming a 50 percent compliance rate). (Source 6) A couple more examples to hammer home the point:
A 2017 national study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy and co-released in New York by the Fiscal Policy Institute found that undocumented workers in New York paid $183 million in personal income tax. (Source 7)
A May 2020 report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, covering the past 10 years, found that $1.4 billion was paid in Unemployment Insurance taxes in New York based on the work of undocumented immigrants. In the United States as a whole, adding all states and the District of Columbia, $13 billion was paid in Unemployment Insurance taxes. (Source 8)
A UCLA study found that undocumented workers and their mixed-status families pay about $8 billion in income taxes in California. In Los Angeles County alone, undocumented immigrants pay about $1 billion in income taxes. (Source 9)
The above describes the situation in only two states. Given that undocumented workers live and work in many states in every region of the country, their tax contribution to the individual states and to the country is immense.
Undocumented workers’ taxes are a donation…
Donald Trump and his cult followers continuously propound the lie that undocumented immigrants and workers drain the local, state, and national economies by getting on “welfare,” food stamps, Medicaid, etc. The fact is that undocumented workers contribute to the economy but cannot partake of its benefits.
For example, undocumented workers contribute billions to Social Security, but due to their legal status, these workers will not be able to collect SS benefits. And even as undocumented workers pay billions of dollars in local and state sales taxes when they purchase appliances, furniture, clothes and other goods and services, they do not qualify for public services such as food stamps, “welfare,” Medicaid, etc. Thus, undocumented workers are the exact opposite of a drain on these services. In reality, the tax and SS payments of undocumented workers amount to outright donations to the country’s and the states’ coffers and economies.
Even as Trump bloviates about patriotism and “America First,” etc., the fact is that the hard-working people he demonizes, undocumented workers, manifest more patriotism and contribute more to the country than the Great Bloviator. Next time you come across some undocumented workers, thank them for their contributions and their patriotism. c/s
Copyright 2020 by Salomon Baldenegro. To contact Sal write: Solmonrb@msn.com
Men working image copyrighted by Barrio Dog Productions Inc. All other images in the public domain.
Source 1 Gospel of Matthew, The New Testament.
Source 2 Ross Buettner, Susanne Craig, and Mike McIntire, The President’s Taxes Long-Concealed Records Show Trump’s Chronic Losses and Years of Tax Avoidance, New York Times, September 27, 2020.
Source 3 Chris Sommerfeldt, ‘It’s insane’: Undocumented Trump workers paid thousands in income tax while president worked the system, New York Daily News, Sep 30, 2020.
Source 4 Abby Vesoulis, Why Donald Trump’s Former Housekeeper—and Millions of Other American Workers—Paid More in Federal Taxes Than Her Boss, TIME, September 30, 2020.
Source 5 Mila Mimica, VERIFY: Do undocumented immigrants pay taxes?, ABC10 California, June 10, 2019.
Source 6 Undocumented Immigrants’ State & Local Tax Contributions (2016), Institute On Taxation And Economic Policy (ITEP), February 24, 2016.
Source 7 Economic Contribution, Taxes Paid, and Occupations of Unauthorized Immigrants in New York State, Fiscal Policy Institute, March 2, 2017.
Source 8 David Dyssegaard Kallick, Unemployment Insurance Taxes Paid for Undocumented Workers in NYS, Fiscal Policy Institute, May 14, 2020.
Source 9 Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, Sherman Robinson, Essential but Disposable: Undocumented Workers and Their Mixed-Status Families, UCLA North American Integration and Development (NAID) Center and the Mexican Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI), August 10, 2020.