Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 22, 2007
POLITICS: Tax Amnesty For Illegal Immigrants: Paying Taxes is For Suckers
As I have explained at great length before, there are two types of amnesty for violations of the law: complete amnesty, meaning no penalties whatsoever, and partial amnesty, by which people are absolved from consequences for lawbreaking for some penalty less than the full force of the law. It's been obvious for some time that the current immigration bill would provide a partial amnesty for people currently in the U.S. illegally. For people who oppose any type of amnesty, that's reason enough to oppose the bill. For people like me, who are willing to support a 'legalization' process under the right circumstances, the question is the details. But one thing should be absolutely non-negotiable: anybody who wants to stay in the U.S. legally has to pay their taxes.
The bill currently under discussion appears to fail that test. The immigration bill would bestow a massive tax amnesty on illegal immigrants. The supporters of this bill think that you, as an American citizen, should pay taxes - but illegal immigrants can become legal residents without paying their own share. This is scandalous. The bill should be rejected for that reason alone, and its supporters should be made to explain why they didn't want illegal immigrants to pay the taxes they already owe.
I'm working here off of National Review's PDF copy of the bill, as well as N.Z. Bear's annotated copy. If I read this bill correctly, the sections establishing the "Z visa" that gives lawful status to people currently illegally in the U.S. are Sections 601-02 and 609, at pp. 260-85 and 294-95 of the draft bill.
What do you have to pay to get the Z visa?
What do you have to pay to go from a Z visa to lawful permanent residence?
"They never contribute more than they take out and at retirement they become very costly," Rector said in Capitol Hill press conference on Monday with Sessions, Sen. Jim Bunning (R.-Ky.) and Rep. Bill Bilbray (R.-Calif.). "Every person that gets the Z visa, and that would be about 12 million people, 9 million of which are adults - is immediately eligible for Social Security. They start to contribute to that system. They start to earn eligibility for Medicare. The White House has claimed they don't get welfare benefits. That is absolutely untrue. For the first 10 years or so they are in the country, the adults would not get welfare benefits, but the children would. They are going to be here for fifty years. For the first 10 years they don’t get means tested welfare, but for the next forty they are going to be eligible for every single type of means tested welfare."
Apparently the Bush Administration feels that collecting back taxes will be too hard to calculate:
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel, asked in a telephone interview yesterday to clarify Chertoff's remark, said it referred only to future taxes.
Of course, the bill is very flexible on how you go about proving that applicants have been, and continue to be, employed and resident in the U.S. for a certain period of time. This being a voluntary statutory solution rather than a compulsory court proceeding, there's no reason why a similar process and formula couldn't be adopted for computing an estimated tax liability. As I have noted before, requiring full payment of all back taxes reduces the incentive to exaggerate how long you have been here, since a longer term of residence means more tax liability. A similar amnesty program could be put in place to encourage the employers of illegals to report and pay their back withholding/payroll taxes using the same formulas.
We can have a fair debate about whether it's proper to let people who entered illegally stay here. But if the idea is to legalize people who are supposed to be hardworking, taxpaying Americans, there's no justification whatsoever for not making them pay their taxes like the rest of us.