Institute for Immigration Research

Fiscal Contributions

Stacks of coins

Examining the fiscal contribution of foreign-born and native-born households in the U.S.

This research brief examines the fiscal contribution of foreign-born and native-born households in the United States. This examination is accomplished by comparing income tax contributions and social assistance expenditures within and between each household group. We make comparisons using data from the 2013 Current Population Survey (CPS), which is produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The findings presented in this research brief indicate that in 2012, foreign born households contributed approximately $106 billion to state and federal income tax. After accounting for the social assistance spent on these households, their contribution remained at $61 billion, or $3,476 per foreign-born household. These figures are compared to the income tax contribution of native-born households, which approximated $871 billion in 2012. After accounting for social assistance spent on these households, their contribution remained at $688 billion, or $6,554 per native-born household.

Findings also demonstrate that the average income tax contribution of foreign-born households was positively correlated with their length of tenure in the United States. Conversely, the median social assistance spent on foreign-born households was negatively correlated with years of residence in the United States. This suggests that the fiscal contribution of foreign-born households increases the longer these households remain in the country.

Further findings indicate that the fiscal contribution of foreign-born and native-born households greatly varied among states. In 2012, there were nine states in which foreign-born households contributed a larger share of their income to state and federal taxes than native-born households. Moreover, there were eight states in which the share of income tax dollars contributed by foreign-born households was larger than the share of social assistance spent on these households. To view the entire brief, please click here.

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