Are taxpayers stuck paying the bill for illegal immigrants?

Illegal immigrants still help the economy because their cheap labor drives down the cost of products and services, an issue The Bee will examine Thursday. But those savings are canceled by the cost to government services, at least on a national level, some economists say.

In the Central Valley, their positive and negative impacts are amplified because of our dependence on them. Businesses benefit in a big way while taxpayers cover the costs.

“Residents have to pick up the tab, and employers get away with paying those workers less,” said Gordon Hanson, an economics professor at the University of California at San Diego and CCIS Research Associate.

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Even though many are paid under the table for housecleaning, yard work and day labor, most work for companies that deduct taxes from their pay. Illegal immigrants also pay sales taxes and property taxes.

Several research organizations estimate that about 55 percent of illegal immigrants are paid on the books, with taxes withheld. The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies found that 75 percent of illegal immigrants in 2006 were taxed.

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