Vail Daily letter: Immigrants pay taxes |

Vail Daily letter: Immigrants pay taxes

In his recent column, Butch Mazzuca retells the story of Alitza Vagenknechtova and her journey to America — an admirable story of struggle and perseverance. However, he reveals his true agenda towards the end of his column where he writes, “Alitza has never applied for food stamps or welfare or government assistance of any kind … it’s a story I wish every immigrant could hear.”

Mazzuca seems to insinuate that other immigrants should also make it on their own — without leaching off the U.S. taxpayer. The government agreed — that is why it passed legislation more than 20 years ago prohibiting undocumented immigrants from receiving public assistance and requiring legal immigrants to wait five years before applying for government assistance. The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act prohibits undocumented immigrants from receiving public benefits.

It is also important to point out that even though undocumented immigrants may not be eligible for benefits, they do pay taxes — a lot. According to Stephen Goss, the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, “undocumented immigrants paid $13 billion into the retirement trust fund that year (2010), and only got about $1 billion in benefits.” Furthermore, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, in Colorado alone, “Each year, undocumented residents pay $85 million in sales and excise taxes, $22 million in income taxes and $37 million in property taxes either as homeowners themselves or renters.”

Immigrants perform some of the toughest jobs, in the harshest conditions, and for the lowest wages. They pay taxes and contribute to Social Security — money they will likely never see again. I wish these facts were more widely known.

Jane Lowery


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