Who’s Paying Their Fair Share and Who’s Not Talking About It
Maine wears many hats: It is the home of lobsters, it is an award-winning vacation spot, and it has one of the best healthcare systems around. However, something Maine is not known for is their hard-working immigrant population. According to the American Immigration Council, Maine’s immigrant population is roughly 3%. This means that of the 1,328,361 people living under the state’s roof, roughly 39,850 are immigrants. Although immigrants make up such a small percentage of the population, they should not be overlooked. They work long days and nights, and are contributing to the state’s economy by paying taxes; high ones. In fact, much higher than many of those who were born on American soil. Let me humor you for a minute.
ITEP, the Institution on Taxation and Economic Policy, estimates that undocumented immigrants across the country pay roughly 8% of their total income in taxes, compared to the 5.4% paid by the top 1% in the US. ITEP also estimates that Maine’s undocumented immigrants paid nearly $4,367,000 in taxes (reported March 2017). This is low compared to states such as New York, but higher than Vermont; whose immigrants put forth roughly $2,936,000 in state and local taxes.
Now, don’t forget the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients in Maine. They paid an estimated $256,000 in state and local taxes in 2016. To put this in perspective, the 1.3 million undocumented immigrants (who are eligible for DACA) contribute an estimated $81.7 billion a year in state and local taxes, according to ITEP. This means that Maine’s dreamers are paying approximately 3% of the total national amount of taxes. Still believe immigrants are living off the system and not benefitting society? Think again.
Perhaps more alarming than the statistics themselves is the lack thereof. We at Incomer Magazine had to dig deep to find this information, which is not current. We called Maine Revenue Services, only to be told that they do not have any record of how much immigrants contributed in taxes for the 2017 fiscal year. Please, do not mistake this article for a research paper that is simply throwing out numbers; we understand this is not enough to convince skeptics. The main argument we are trying to get across here is that immigrants are paying their fair share, and no one wants to admit it. They are a large part of Maine’s growth, albeit slow.
Let me ask you, the reader; where is the fairness in these statistics? Have you found it, yet? It is crystal clear that equality does not exist in Maine, and the country as a whole, when it comes to tax contributions. Perhaps, Governor LePage and his colleagues should sit down with Maine’s immigrant community and create a more egalitarian system. Since, you know, they are contributing 18% in taxes to the state. Also, let’s work on updating the records of immigrant tax contributions and make them readily available to the public. Residents in Maine need to be made aware of these statistics. They deserve to know.
To Maine’s leaders who believe immigrants should be kept out because they are taking our jobs and stripping us of our resources: You’ll be thanking them later. They are the pioneers who are the saving grace for this state, and should not be underestimated. A prosperous future, rich in culture, lays with them. Do not burn that bridge.