While many people are surprised to find out that two of three undocumented immigrants pay payroll taxes, according to the Social Security administration, it should be no surprise that every single one of them also pays sales taxes.

After all, every person in this country is required to pay sales tax whenever they purchase consumer goods, regardless of their immigration status. As one undocumented worker put it, it's not like cashiers are trained to ask people whether they're here legally or not to decide if they should charge them the mandatory tax.

"No person can survive without purchasing things in the United States because we don't have an economy that allows people to be self-sufficient," said Lisa Duran, executive director of Rights for All People. "And we all know that undocumented immigrants shop just like every one else."

In 2010, the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy estimated that Colorado received nearly $115 million in state and local taxes paid by households headed by undocumented immigrants. And the state was No. 12 on the list, which was topped by California, Texas and Florida.

And these are not the only tax contributions made by undocumented immigrants. They also pay property taxes - historically used as a major source of funding for public education in Colorado - even when they rent. According to ITEP figures, households headed by undocumented immigrants paid almost $22 million in property taxes in 2010, whether directly if they owned a home or indirectly if they rented.


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Although there is plenty of information to prove that immigrants pay not only payroll taxes but also sales and property taxes, those spewing anti-immigrant rhetoric have done their job well because this topic continues to be a source of heated debates.

"The bullhorn of folks that are saying undocumented immigrants do pay taxes is unfortunately a lot smaller than the bullhorn of the folks who are repeating the lies," said Duran. "Immigrants - both documented and undocumented - are wonderful, important, vital parts of our society, but not enough of us are trumpeting the fact that we're so much better as a nation for the presence of immigrants in our communities."