Undocumented immigrants hope paying taxes will benefit legal status

Global Business

Undocumented immigrants hope paying taxes will benefit legal status

U.S. President Donald Trump is cracking down on illegal immigration, claiming that undocumented immigrants are a drag on the economy.

But thousands have argued they contribute to the economy often without being able to benefit from government programs.

CGTN’s Andrea Arenas report.

Undocumented immigrants hope paying taxes will benefit legal status

U.S. President Donald Trump is cracking down on illegal immigration, claiming that undocumented immigrants are a drag on the economy. But thousands have argued they contribute to the economy often without being able to benefit from government programs. CGTN's Andrea Arenas report.

Alberto Moncada left his home country of Honduras a year ago. Since then, he’s been living in Maryland, and working at an immigrant organization called CASA where he helps other newcomers adjust to American life – including paying taxes.

Alberto filed his taxes for the first time this year.

“One of the new experiences I have had this year, has been to be able to pay my taxes for the first time in the United States” Moncada said.

“Since it was my first time paying taxes, there were many things I did not know. But part of my job is to help people pay their own taxes and that has been very useful for me and for my own personal experience.”

Low-income families can come to CASA and get help filing their taxes for free.

A 2017 report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates that about 8 percent of what each undocumented immigrant earns in the U.S. goes to pay income taxes. And regardless of their status, immigrants contribute approximately $80,000 more in taxes than the government services they use during their lifetime.

“A lot of the people who come to file are of course very nervous being undocumented to pay taxes, but they also understand their obligation to pay taxes, so they still pay, despite that fear,” CASA Tax Coordinator Catherine Paul said.

“They understand that the IRS does not share that information with the USCIS, or Immigration or any other agency. We have actually had more undocumented people come to pay their taxes with CASA since last year.”

In 1997, the IRS came up with a Tax ID number for those who don’t have a work permit but make a living in the United States. Since then millions of undocumented immigrants have used this number to file their taxes.

Obtaining an individual tax identification number, called an ITIN, is the first step toward completing their taxes.

Many undocumented immigrants hope their contributions to the country’s economy can help them gain legal status, if immigration reform laws are passed in the U.S.

According to the IRS, immigrants with an ITIN, paid an estimated $9 billion through payroll taxes every year – something many workers hope will gain wider recognition in the future.