Friday, October 2, 2009

Immigrants and taxes

One of the complaints I hear is that illegal immigrants don’t pay taxes. This may sound probable in that many are paid under the table but it doesn’t mean they’re getting around paying taxes. If their kids go to school that’s paid for from property taxes collected by a local body. Many local services are paid for from sales taxes paid by the retailers who collect it from the customer. And any income immigrants receive is what’s left after their employer deducts income taxes.

When was the last time YOU paid taxes? Taxes paid directly to the taxing body that is.

We’ll all mention state and federal income taxes due that were not deducted from our wages. Some will list property taxes. But that’s about the whole list.

We DON’T pay taxes directly to the taxing body. Someone else does.

Our employer pays (or is supposed to pay) all due income, Social Security and Medicare taxes. Retailers are supposed to pass on to the state the sales tax we paid. The oil companies pay government the various taxes on gasoline. Our landlord pays the property tax and includes it in our monthly rent bill. We, individually, don’t usually pay any regular taxes directly.

So, what’s the problem? The problem is that the businesses that are required by law to collect and forward taxes to the appropriate body aren’t paying or forwarding those tax payments. And the immigrant workers are being blamed for not paying their taxes.

How come there’s no shouting and table pounding about the business owners stealing from the government by not paying these taxes? If immigrants can be thought to be escaping from paying their taxes it’s only because we never think that we don’t pay taxes directly either. Those who are supposed to collect and forward taxes to the appropriate government body are keeping the taxes for themselves.

For a year or two a few years back very prominent people who were being considered for high government appointments were withdrawing their names because they hadn’t paid the taxes on their privately hired household help. No outrage there.

We should check the condition of our glass house before we start throwing stones at our neighbors.

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