Monday, July 23, 2007

Ouch: D-News spanks Dayton and Urquhart

Wow. Every once in a while, the D-News really blows its stack at some of our local politicians. Today's editorial -- titled "Intolerance and Fear" -- blasts Sen. Margaret Dayton (R-Mars), Rep. Steve Urquhart (R-St. George), and other "Johnny-one-note tune" legislators for attacks on illegal immigration that are "more angry and emotional than fact based."

Check this out:
Dayton said, "Undocumented workers do not pay income tax unless they have a Social Security number that doesn't belong to them." All she had to do was spend 20 seconds on the Internet to learn — as letter writer Celina Su did — that the Internal Revenue Service routinely gives non-Social Security taxpayer identification numbers to students and others without green cards or citizenship papers, and that in 2005, holders of those ITINs paid $5 billion into tax coffers. Also, listing the cost of educating children without fully looking at the benefits the state receives from that education is dishonest.
Whack! Frankly, though, Sen. Dayton doesn't need to spend 20 seconds researching what she's talking about. A few months ago, she was honored by some right-wing 'grassroots' group for being 100 percent predictable. Now, most people would be embarrassed to be so lockstep as to not have a single differing opinion. Heck, the two VoU bloggers disagree on something at least once a week. Chris Cannon strays from the pack on immigration. Orrin Hatch has stem cell research and CHIP. Rob Bishop has--is that guy still in Congress?

Anyway, it's hard to do independent research and remain 100 percent predictable. That 20 seconds isn't just 20 seconds; it's a way of life.


Frank Staheli said...

This story from March 5, 2007, says that about 700,000 illegal aliens pay income tax using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead of an SSN. I think at first glance that this is a good compromise. If the IRS required an SSN (instead of allowing ITINs), more identity theft would occur, and fewer taxes would be paid by illegals.

But the question is: if 700,000 are paying income taxes, where are the other several million? Considering that a significant number of illegals are here by themselves, earning money to send to their families south of the border, I would expect something like 5 million illegals to have paid income taxes.

Voice of Utah said...

Perhaps a better question is, where are the employers? As I understand it (which doesn't mean much), much of the tax revenue from ITINs is via withholding by employers. Many employers are more sophisticated about these options than many illegals (although not always); I would not rule out that significantly more illegals would pay tax if they knew how and/or their employer facilitated the process. However, I acknowledge that many would not. On that score, though, they are not alone; there seem to be a lot of non-immigrant tax deadbeats out there, too, and not just the nutty tax protesters.

The legitimate question raised by your comment supports the main thrust of our post, which is that people like Sen. Dayton should make factually correct statements and then let those be the basis of discussion, rather than spreading misinformation. There is a big difference between saying that taxes can only be paid with an SSN vs. saying that taxes can be paid with an ITIN but that not enough illegals/withholding are doing so. We can't find solutions unless we start with accurate information.