Undocumented migrants pay much more in taxes than Trump - GulfToday

Undocumented migrants pay much more in taxes than Trump


Donald Trump

Ahmed Twaij, The Independent

It has been America’s worst kept secret: Sitting President Donald Trump has paid next to nothing over the past 15 years in taxes. In a damning report released by the New York Times over the weekend, it was found that in 10 of the last 15 years, the self-proclaimed successful businessman paid not a dollar in federal taxes. In what can only be classed as irony befitting 2020, the tax returns prove that Trump has paid less tax than the very immigrants he has been waging war against since before taking office.

Being voted in on a platform of anti-immigration, Trump proudly made his supporters chant “build the wall” at rallies and protests (the chant is so well-known now that it’s even being used in school bullying.) He has repeatedly, and incorrectly, claimed that immigrants cost the US taxpayer “billions and billions of dollars a month”. Despite being questioned by journalists for supportive data, Trump even declared a spurious national emergency in 2018. But the reality is that the very immigrants he tries to keep out contribute more to the US federal reserve than he does himself. And, yes, that includes undocumented immigrants.

In 2014 it was found that legal immigrants contributed to $328 billion in taxes. States like California, New York and New Jersey credit a quarter of all their taxes to immigrants. A similar contribution extends to undocumented migrants. A report by the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington DC-based think tank, indicates that more than half of undocumented immigrants in the US pay income taxes.

Specifically, the report found that undocumented immigrants contributed $11.7 billion in taxes per year. This accounts for an average 8 per cent of their income — in other words, nearly $3,000 per annum. To put this into perspective, the top 1 percent of earners in the US pay only a mere 5.4 per cent (or in Trump’s case, often 0 per cent) of their own income.

Contribution to US taxes by undocumented migrants has kept Medicare and social security solvent. Sadly, however, being undocumented, they are unlikely to ever benefit from their input. In 2013, the Social Security Administration discovered undocumented migrants contributed over $13 billion in a single year to the retirement trust fund. It has often been argued that a simple approach to improve migrant tax compliance is to create a simpler path to citizenship — and indeed many undocumented immigrants pay taxes in the hope that this will stand them in good stead if they eventually do apply to be naturalised.

The issue suffocating America’s working and middle classes is not as a result of progressives and their supposed open-door policy towards immigration, but as a result of a system which has allowed for three (white, male) Americans to accrue more wealth than the cumulative savings of the bottom 50 per cent of all Americans. It’s people like Donald Trump, Jeff Bezos and others who continue to benefit from such a system.

Amazon often uses complex loopholes reserved for the wealthy elite to not pay federal taxes. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, as nearly 30 million Americans lost their jobs, it was not migrants who benefited, but individuals like Bezos, who managed to continue to amass wealth, adding over $300 billion to his savings in a few months.

The issues facing many people who Trump thinks he can rely on to vote for him are the direct consequence of Trump and the “class solidarity”, as Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez puts it, of the rich elite. Trump’s tax returns serve as a painful reminder that the enemy is not the migrant in search of a better life, but those actively not contributing to the country they live in. Simply put, migrants pay their taxes; Trump and his counterparts don’t.

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