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New Tax Research Shows Immigrants Help Missouri's Economy

A new internet data tool shows that DACA-eligible immigrants alone paid almost $1.8 billion in state and local taxes in 2017. (Alene Yukusheva/Adobe Stock)
A new internet data tool shows that DACA-eligible immigrants alone paid almost $1.8 billion in state and local taxes in 2017. (Alene Yukusheva/Adobe Stock)
April 16, 2019

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Just in time for Tax Day, a new internet tool shows the tax contributions of immigrants around the country. It shows that in Missouri, immigrants paid $2.3 billion in taxes in 2017.

The data disproves the myth touted by President Donald Trump and others, that immigrants are a drain on the U.S. economy. Andrew Lim is director of quantitative research with the nonprofit group New American Economy, which researched federal stats from the American Community Survey to produce an analysis by state for its "Map the Impact" web page.

"We found that the net economic benefit of immigrants in Missouri is $630.1 million,” Lim said. “They're adding more to the economy than they are taking in public services."

The net economic impact measures the amount of money immigrants - both legal and undocumented - use in public services, from education and healthcare, to public safety and prisons. It compares those figures to how much they pay in income and sales taxes and the economic activity that prompts. The researchers found Missouri has almost 260,000 residents who are immigrants - just over 4 percent - who had $6.3 billion in spending power in 2017.

Across the country, undocumented immigrants paid more than $27 billion in taxes in the same year. Lim also pointed out immigrant workers are crucial to many sectors of the economy.

"As workers they fill critical gaps in the labor market, both at the high end - thinking about doctors, computer engineers, bio-technicians - but also at a lesser skill level, which are equally as important,” he said; “so, as farm workers, as construction workers, people who work in hospitality and restaurants."

He added Missouri also is home to more than 15,000 immigrant entrepreneurs, whose businesses employ about 167,000 people. The Map the Impact report is available at NewAmericanEconomy.org.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MO