Thursday, May 6, 2010

About Those "Illegals" Not Paying for Stuff. . .

On the way to work today, I heard some douchebag (who's probably a San Diego elected official) talk about how the County has to spend all this money to provide services to undocumented immigrants for free because undocumented immigrants don't pay taxes. . .

I call bullshit.

Not on the fact that undocumented immigrants use services (they do), but rather that undocumented immigrants don't pay taxes.  That's bullshit, pure and simple.  California gets its tax revenue from three basic sources: sales taxes, property taxes, and income taxes.  Let's go down the list, shall we, and see what taxes undocumented immigrants do and don't pay.

Sales Taxes: California has a mandatory sales taxes - every item purchased in the State of California (save a few necessities) is subject to a sales tax.  While theoretically the tax is levied on businesses, the cost of the tax is passed directly to consumers.  Now since undocumented immigrants buy stuff in California, they are subject to sales taxes, and PAY sales taxes, just like EVERYONE ELSE.  Oh, and counties like San Diego have their own sales taxes, which again, undocumented immigrants pay.

Property Taxes: All real estate is subject to property taxes - every year a percentage of the property's value is paid by the owner of the property to the County governments, and then sent up to Sacramento.  Like any tax, an owner of private property can pass that cost onto his customers - in this case any tenants he/she has - by increasing the rent.  And that's exactly what most property owners do.  Given that there is no barrier to owning or renting property in the United States (save cost, of course), undocumented immigrants either own property, or rent property.  When they do, they pay property taxes.

Income taxes: Of all the taxes that are paid in California, only one - income taxes - can be avoided by undocumented immigrants, in theory.  After all, undocumented immigrants can get paid under the table, and thus the employer can avoid paying taxes.  But given that low income workers don't get paid much (and are thus subjected to lower income tax rates), this isn't such a big deal.  Oh, and counties don't collect income tax.  Additionally, an undocumented immigrant can call the State of California and get a taxpayer ID number so that they can, in fact, pay taxes, which many do because reputable employers require that sort of thing.  In other words, while this is the tax that undocumented immigrants can avoid paying, many don't, but even if they didn't, income taxes on low income workers are negligible. 

To summarize, death and taxes are inevitable, even for undocumented immigrants. So let's drop the whole "they're getting services that they don't pay for" routine.  If undocumented immigrants buy things, or rent property, which they undoubtedly do, they pay taxes.

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