NY Undocumented Immigrants Pledge to Release Tax Returns

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A group of undocumented immigrants in New York City pledged to make their tax returns public if all the major presidential candidates do the same. The immigrants said that they were tired of being scapegoated as non-contributors to the tax rolls when, in fact, they pay more than some billionaires.

Ravi Ragbir, executive director of the New Sanctuary Movement, said undocumented workers pay their fair share. He told reporters at a press event at Judson Memorial Church in Manhattan that; “They are putting themselves at risk because all the information will be public, but they are willing to take that risk.”

A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences demonstrates that immigrants pay a large amount of taxes, whether they are documented or undocumented. According to a summary from the American Immigration Council:

A report from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) goes to great lengths to examine the net impact of immigrants on the federal budget  and breaks down their analysis by first generation (foreign-born), the second generation (those that have one or two foreign-born parents), and the third-plus generation (everyone else). The report looks at the costs and contributions of immigrants and their descendants at a single point in time (a static analysis) and estimates total fiscal impact over longer periods of time (dynamic analysis).

Some of the most compelling findings include:

  • Age is a key factor in fiscal analysis. The data show that all people – native- and foreign-born alike – create fiscal deficits until they reach their 20s and again after they reach age 60. Children and seniors utilize expensive benefits and services. However, during their working years, the first, second, and third-plus generations all contribute more than they use in benefits and services.
  • Second-generation adults have a more positive net fiscal impact than either first or third-plus generation adults. The second generation is younger, better educated, has higher wages, and contributes more in taxes.
  • The major driver of fiscal impact is educational attainment, not immigrant status. Looking into the future and estimating the fiscal impact of all three generational groups over their lifetimes, NAS finds that the fiscal impacts of immigrants and their descendants are generally positive at the national level. When broken down by education level, whether they are immigrants or native-born, those with more education always contribute more.
  • Today’s immigrants are more educated, making them bigger contributors to government finances than immigrants in the past.
  • Because the federal debt and deficit are large, and these costs are distributed across all people, the data show negative fiscal impacts for all three generational groups in the short- and long-term. Assuming federal deficits persist and the national debt increases, everyone will continue to be a net “taker” because the existing fiscal deficit is divided among all people.
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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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