JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Treasurer Sarah Steelman claimed Wednesday that Missouri is missing out on as much as $49 million a year from illegal immigrants not paying income taxes.
But Steelman may have significantly overstated the impact.
Steelman, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, based her projections on a Pew Hispanic Center estimate of up to 65,000 unauthorized immigrants in Missouri. Steelman assumed all of those are adults, 90 percent are working, and none are paying income taxes.
But the Pew Hispanic Center numbers also includes children. The center's own report notes that about 65 percent of the illegal immigrant population is working. And the state Department of Revenue believes that thousands of those illegal workers may be paying income taxes.
DEMS POUNCE on Steelman
Meanwhile, the State Democratic Party sent out a release that Steelman received nearly $9,000 in campaign contributions from a company she previously criticized for its involvement in employing illegal immigrants.
The Party release cites an St. Louis Post Dispatch article that said Steelman called for an investigation of developer Mike Hejna of Gundaker Commercial Group. It then notes a July 2006 contribution from Gundaker. Later, according to the release, the Missouri Housing Commission granted that developer tax credits for a project.
"If Steelman wants Missourians to take her seriously on this issue, she should start by returning the money and pledge to never again give away state tax credits to companies caught employing illegal immigrants," said Jack Cardetti of the Missouri Democratic Party.