"They Take Our Jobs!": And 20 Other Myths about Immigration

By Aviva Chomsky | Go to book overview

MYTH 4
IMMIGRANTS DON'T PAY TAXES

Immigrants, no matter what their status, pay the same taxes that citizens do—sales taxes, real estate taxes (if they rent or own a home), gasoline taxes. Some immigrants work in the informal economy and are paid under the table in cash, so they don't have federal and state income taxes, or social security taxes, deducted from their paychecks. So do some citizens. In fact every time the kid next door babysits, or shovels the snow, he or she is working in the informal economy.

Much of the service sector operates in the informal sphere. Nanny jobs and housecleaning jobs—which tend to be held primarily by women—generally use informal arrangements whether the workers are citizen or immigrant, documented or undocumented. But increasingly, jobs that used to be in the formal sector—like factory jobs—have sunk into the informal sector through elaborate systems of subcontracting. Textile and apparel manufacturing are particularly notorious in this regard.1

There are some benefits for employers, and for consumers, from this informal sector. Employers can pay lower wages than those required by law. Consumers receive access

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