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Steelman says Missouri loses up to $49M to illegal immigration

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By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Missouri Treasurer and Republican candidate for Governor Sarah Steelman says illegal immigrants are costing the state millions of dollars in lost tax revenue.

Steelman says between $26 and $49 million in state revenues go uncollected every year, due to undocumented workers not paying state income taxes.

She used that statistic as testimony Wednesday before a State Senate committee considering bills that would crack down on businesses that hire illegal workers.

Steelman places much of the blame on companies that hire illegal immigrants.

"And that's why I think we need to make sure we have laws that go after those employers who are not paying their fare share of the taxes," Steelman said.

Joan Suarez with the group Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates says, though, that undocumented workers file both federal and state income tax returns.

"There is a report from the Missouri Budget Project, using the Pew Center, which is the same source that Sarah Steelman used, indicating that, in fact, whatever number of undocumented workers we have in the state of Missouri, that they contribute more than they receive," Suarez said.

Suarez added that many undocumented workers use federal tax I.D. numbers, instead of Social Security numbers, to file state income tax returns.

The Blunt Administration doesn't accept such returns.

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