After the New York Times released documents revealing that Donald Trump most likely hasn’t paid a single cent in federal income taxes since the mid-90s, the GOP nominee’s favorite tactic of demeaning people who he thinks are taking government benefits without merit is getting new scrutiny.
As Fusion points out, last year Trump claimed that undocumented immigrants were getting $4.2 billion in tax credits. But as fact-checking outlets soon revealed, “the government may have been giving tax credits based on the children of the undocumented, but it was still taking in more money from tax revenue than it was shelling out in credits.”
It’s well known that undocumented immigrants pay a substantial portion of state and local taxes. According to some estimates, that amount approaches $11.64 billion a year.
But studies have also suggested that between 50% and 75% are on the books, using fake SSNs or tax identification numbers—which means they contribute to state and federal tax coffers while being ineligible both for EITCs and the federal programs those tax dollars fund.
These trends don’t alter much for the children of undocumented immigrants or those who do eventually naturalize. A few years ago, the National Research Council reported that the average naturalized immigrant and their children will pay between $20,000 and $80,000 more in taxes over their lifetime than they will receive in any kind of benefit—local, state, or federal.
According to the Social Security Administration, undocumented immigrants paid an estimated $12 billion in payroll taxes but will never get to receive the benefits.