It’s a common misconception that unauthorized immigrants don’t pay taxes. In fact, it’s a requirement for everyone who works in the U.S., regardless of immigration status. According to data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. paid more than one billion dollars in personal income tax in 2010.
To file taxes, you need a number. If a person isn’t eligible for a Social Security number (and often times even authorized immigrants aren’t) they might need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or an ITIN. Since the Internal Revenue Service says it doesn’t track the immigration status of ITIN users, the government doesn’t actually know how many ITIN filers are unauthorized workers.
The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition estimates that there are about 200,000 immigrants living and working in the state who are not authorized to be here. Reporter Sarah reynolds looks at one of the many non-profits that are helping these immigrants file their taxes.
This story was originally produced for WCAI, the Cape & Islands NPR Station, as part of a six-part series on immigration.
Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images