- Feb 22, 2013
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And no one cares.
About 6.1 Million Illegals Filed Taxes in US – Many Didn't Pay, Received RefundsIn the last presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Clinton said that “half of all” illegal immigrants in the U.S. “actually pay federal income tax.” PolitiFact, a Pulitzer Prize-winning fact check organization, investigated Clinton’s claim and reported: “While there is no official figure, experts estimate that about half of all undocumented workers pay federal income taxes, if not more.”
In reality, the polar opposite is true. Federal government data shows that while roughly half of illegal immigrants file federal tax returns, the vast majority of them don’t pay any federal income taxes. Instead, they use these returns to claim refundable tax credits, which are a form of cash welfare. In other words, illegal immigrants mainly use the federal income tax code to collect money from U.S. citizens.
Reliable Data on Illegal Immigrants Is Scarce
Federal law generally prohibits illegal immigrants from earning income in the U.S., but many of them do so by working for cash and by fraudulently using Social Security numbers. A 2013 reportby the Social Security Administration notes that illegal immigrants get Social Security numbers by using counterfeit birth certificates, usurping other people’s numbers, and reusing numbers that they received to work temporarily in the U.S.
Because illegal immigration is often covert, reliable data on it is scarce. In the words of the Congressional Budget Office, figures for the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. “are subject to considerable uncertainty.” This applies to most data on illegal immigration, but various federal agencies have produced estimates that shed degrees of light on these issues.