Civic Contributions: Taxes Paid by Immigrants in the Washington, DC, Metro Area
This report provides an estimate of the taxes paid by immigrants in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, a relatively affluent region that encompasses the District of Columbia and portions of Maryland and Virginia. It compares the tax payments of immigrant households—households headed by naturalized citizens, legal immigrants, and unauthorized immigrants—with the contributions of native households between 1999 and 2000. The report also examines the demographics, household composition, income, and geographic dispersal of immigrant tax payers across the region.
The report calculates that immigrant households in the Washington, DC area paid nearly $10 billion in taxes in 1999-2000. The report finds that households headed by unauthorized immigrants have much lower average incomes and tax payments than native households, and also pay a substantially lower share of their income in taxes. Authors estimate that only 55 percent of unauthorized individuals pay income or payroll taxes. On the other hand, households headed by legal status holders pay taxes at nearly the same rate as native households. Households headed by green card holders have slightly lower average incomes and tax contributions, while households headed by naturalized citizens have slightly higher average incomes than native households and paid roughly the same amount in taxes. Furthermore, the report shows that increases in immigrant households’ income and tax contributions correspond to gains in educational attainment and English proficiency. These findings suggest that over time, as immigrants become better integrated, their tax contributions will reach parity with natives.