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Undocumented Immigrants Pay Taxes Too, Group Says

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California's undocumented immigrants will pay more than $2.7 billion in state and local taxes this year, according a new report released Monday by the Washington-based Immigration Policy Center.

The group estimates the 2.5 million immigrants who live in the Golden State illegally pay $176 million income taxes in California, $735 million in property tax, and $1.8 billion in sales tax.

"When people are paying sales tax, it means they're shopping and they're creating jobs," the organization's spokeswoman Wendy Sefsaf said in an interview.

If those immigrants were deported, she said "that shopping and consumer power goes away, the economy shrinks, and you lose jobs."

The report does not indicate whether undocumented immigrants are currently paying more in taxes than the government is providing in services, a question Jon Coupal, President the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association said should be at the center of any analysis.

"That demands serious analytical review," Coupal said. "We have seen some studies that show the impact on education and medical services because of undocumented immigrants is very substantial."

But Sefsaf of the Immigration Policy Center said the organization's study shows the importance of giving undocumented immigrants a path toward legalizing their status.

Nationally, all undocumented immigrants pay sales tax and about half pay income tax, the group said. (Last year, the IRS reported, 3.8 million tax returns were filed with an "Individual Taxpayer Identification Number" rather than a social security number).

"If you legalize them and get them up to 100 percent, that’s even better," Sefsaf said.

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