Georgia: Illegal Immigrants Pay Taxes Too

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Georgia lawmakers, always on the prowl for opportunities to cut the costs of public services, have been making a lot of noise recently about the allegedly exorbitant costs imposed on the state by providing services to illegal aliens.

The Georgia Budget Policy Institute released a clever study earlier this week that takes a stab at quantifying the obvious response: that illegal aliens do, in fact, pay plenty of taxes to support the public services they consume. Starting from the premise that there are certain taxes (primarily sales taxes, excise taxes, and indirect property taxes in the form of higher rents for renters) that hit illegal aliens just as hard as Georgia citizens, GBPI estimates broadly the amount of these taxes that aliens likely pay to Georgia state and local governments each year at somewhere between $215 million and $250 million.

The methodology behind the report is hardly rocket science-- the economic behavior of undocumented aliens is very hard to measure accurately-- but it's based on the best available data. And GBPI goes out of its way to explain exactly how it derived its estimates-- and what could be wrong with them. It's a level of data transparency and honesty that other fiscal policy groups should shoot for in this sort of report.

State newspaper coverage can be found here and here. Continuing the long tradition of newspapers going out of their way to "out" nonpartisan think tanks that express any sympathy for, say, adequately funding public services, here's how the Journal Constitution described GBPI:
GBPI says it is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, though it is supported by and has received funding from groups advocating "progressive" social change and activism.
As if the only way to achieve "nonpartisan" status was to accept funding only from groups who believe everything is just fine in the world...

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