Corporate giants often get huge tax breaks, while poor, undocumented immigrants have paid billions in state taxes
Ben Franklin’s famous dictum, “Nothing is certain except death and taxes” is crying out for an urgent revision. Why? Because even if still holds true for people like you and me, it has little to do with some of the country’s richest corporations.
The truth is that for corporate giants like General Electric, Verizon, Citigroup, FedEx and others, the only certainty in terms of taxes is that they contribute as little to the country’s coffers as possible.
Ironically, while many of these corporate behemoths pay zero taxes, the eternally vilified undocumented immigrants in New York paid $1.1 billion in state taxes in 2012.
Yes, the unauthorized immigrant population, among the poorest and most vulnerable in New York State, does its part when it comes to taxes, according to a report by the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (itepnet.org), a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that works on federal, state and local tax policy issues.
The report, that covers the 50 states, was co-released with the Fiscal Policy Institute, which focuses on issues that affect the quality of life of New Yorkers. Its findings should be a call to address the inequity of a tax system under which the very rich are, for all practical purposes, subsidized by the working poor and the middle class.
The case of GE is among the most outrageous. From 2008 to 2013, while it made over $33.9 billion in profits, GE received a tax refund of more than $2.9 billion from the Internal Revenue Service, according to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (D-Vermont) website.
Even more scandalous, in 2012, GE stashed $108 billion in offshore tax havens to avoid paying income taxes. If this practice were outlawed, Sanders said, GE would have paid $37.8 billion in federal income taxes that year.
ITEP’s study makes clear the economic benefit of legalizing immigrant workers. If all the undocumenteds were to gain legal status, ITEP found, our state would receive $251 million more in state and local taxes.
“Every year we collect a significant amount in taxes from undocumented immigrants,” said Ron Deutsch, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute.
“Albany politicians should keep these significant tax revenues in mind when the New York State DREAM Act comes up for debate again soon,” Deutsch added. “Helping undocumented students pay for college, as that bill would do, would only increase students’ earning capacity, and further boost the state and local taxes they would pay.”
The message to those who accuse the undocumented of being “leeches” couldn’t be clearer: Stop being a fool and redirect your fury toward the real leeches, those with the means and political clout to exploit every loophole in our tax laws not to pay their fair share.