Both documented and undocumented immigrants pay taxes. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States. According to the New American Economy, immigrants paid $458.7 billion in taxes in 2018. Of that, $458.7 billion undocumented immigrants paid $31.9 in taxes. The Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy estimates that as of 2017, undocumented immigrants paid $11.74 billion a year in state and local taxes (including income taxes, property taxes, and sales and excise taxes). Undocumented immigrants pay various types of taxes, including:

  1. Sales taxes;
  2. Property taxes;
  3. Income taxes;
  4. Social security & Medicare; and
  5. State and local taxes.

Payment of these taxes amounts to billions of dollars in taxes paid each year by undocumented immigrants.

Sales Taxes

A few states in the nation do not assess a sales tax; however, in most states, when an undocumented immigrant makes a purchase, they pay sales tax. In its March 2017 report, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimated that in 2014, undocumented immigrants paid approximately $7,025,296,000 billion in sales taxes.

Property Taxes

Depending on the state, 21%-45% of undocumented immigrants own a home. Most states, counties, and municipalities across the U.S. assess property taxes. Immigrants who own real property pay those property taxes, and immigrants who rent contribute to the tax basis by paying rent. Property taxes support the school system, and other municipal public works.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates that undocumented immigrants paid $3,583,429,000 in property taxes in 2014.

Income Taxes

When an undocumented immigrant does not have a social security number, they may apply for an “Individual Tax Identification Number” from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  According to the IRS’ “Taxpayer Advocate” in 2015, 4.4 million ITIN filers paid $23.6 billion in taxes, including $5.5 billion in payroll and Medicare taxes. According to another document from the IRS, undocumented workers pay over $9 billion in annual payroll taxes. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates that undocumented immigrants paid $1,131,236,000 in income and excise taxes in 2014.

State & Local Taxes

Undocumented immigrants also pay state, local, and county taxes when they dine out, pump gas, and otherwise participate in the community.   According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, undocumented immigrants pay $11,739,961,000 per year in state and local taxes.

Federal Taxes

Social Security & Medicare

Undocumented immigrants are ineligible to receive social security benefits and may receive Medicare in limited circumstances.  For undocumented immigrants who have taxes withdrawal from their paychecks, this means that they pay FICA taxes for benefits that they will likely never receive. According to the Social Security Administration, for the year 2010, undocumented workers paid approximately $12 billion into the social security system.

Annual Federal Tax Returns

The IRS estimates that 6 million undocumented immigrants file federal tax returns each year.

Many families are ‘blended’ and may have one U.S. citizen parent, one or more undocumented parents, and U.S. citizen and foreign-born children. According to the IRS’ Taxpayer Advocate, for years 2011-2014, an average of 4.6 million people filed Form 1040 that included an ITIN for the primary or secondary filer, or a dependent.

Table 1: State and Local Taxes Paid By Undocumented Immigrants 1
StateIncome TaxesProperty TaxesSales TaxesTotal Undocumented Immigrants by State

(Approximate) 2

AlaskaNo Income Tax$2,167,000$1,877,000$4,043,00010,000
District of Columbia$6,647,000$5,651,000$19,467,000$31,765,00025,000
FloridaNo Income Tax$134,722,586$463,955,000$598,677,875825,000
NevadaNo Income Tax$20,271,000$65,830,000$86,101,000210,000
New HampshireNo Income Tax$5,207,000$1,987,000$7,236,00015,000
New Jersey$49,148,000$272,322,000$265,945,000$587,415,000450,000
New Mexico$3,956,000$13,689,000$50,098,000$67,743,00055,000
New York$182,675,000$354,686,000$564,962,000$1,102,323,000650,000
North Carolina$59,671,000$54,568,000$163,163,000$277,402,000325,000
North Dakota$123,000$507,000$2,214,000$2,844,0005,000
Rhode Island$3,887,000$9,652,000$17,615,000$31,154,00035,000
South Carolina$10,606,000$13,288,000$43,859,000$67,753,00090,000
South DakotaNo Income Tax$1,036,000$4,302,000$5,338,0005,000
TennesseeNo Income Tax$16,260,000$91,169,000$107,465,000130,000
TexasNo Income Tax$493,636,000$1,067,260,000$1,560,896,0001,600,000
WashingtonNo Income Tax$73,577,000$243,047,000$316,624,000250,000
West Virginia$1,080,000$501,000$3,531,000$5,112,000<5,000
WyomingNo Income Tax$723,000$3,442,000$4,165,0005,000

1 Methodology for ITEP Data

The estimates for income, property, and sales taxes paid by undocumented immigrants, by state, were aggregated from the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy.   In compiling its data, the ITEP uses “five main data points” in their methodology:

  1. The estimated undocumented immigrant population of each state;
  2. The average size of undocumented immigrant families;
  3. A range of undocumented immigrant family’s annual incomes: ITEP adjusts this income downwards by 10% to account for monies sent abroad;
  4. Estimated numbers of undocumented immigrants owning homes;
  5. Estimated “effective tax rates” for sales, income, and property taxes, that are paid by low-moderate income families by state.

Additional assumptions were made in ITEP’s methodology:

  • That undocumented immigrants, like all people, pay sales taxes when they purchase goods and services;
  • That 50% of undocumented immigrants pay income taxes;
  • That undocumented immigrants, like all others, pay property taxes; ITEP also accounts for renters contributing to property tax revenues.

Ten States Receiving the Most State & Local Taxes Paid by Undocumented Immigrants

Six Largest Undocumented Populations by State: 2017

2 Methodology for Pew Research Center

Estimates of the Undocumented Immigrant populations by state are from the Pew Research Center. The Pew Research Center aggregated its data from U.S. census records, government surveys, birth records, school enrollment data, tax data, along with Mexican census records. After that data is complied, Pew combines that data with legal U.S. immigrant admissions, and other “demographic data” (death records) to determine how many immigrants continue to reside in the U.S.

Lastly, they subtract the legal immigrant population from that number to obtain the estimated undocumented immigrant population.