NM Aims to Promote Justice with Tax Rebates for Immigrant Workers
Monday, July 10, 2023
Tax rebates can boost economic growth, and the rebates available in New Mexico this summer are designed to reverse discriminatory exclusions of immigrant essential workers.
During this year's legislative session, lawmakers used a massive budget windfall from the lucrative oil and gas industry to approve some $667 million in tax rebates.
Immigrants make up a disproportionate number of the state's oil and gas workers.
Marian Méndez-Cera, policy and political coordinator for the El Centro Family Health Clinic, said at the same time, the pandemic caused Hispanic and Latino families widespread financial insecurity and high levels of debt.
"Story after story of New Mexican families that struggle to keep their families afloat," Méndez-Cera observed. "Which is with covering basic needs, like shelter, paying for food. It's just things that we need on the daily basis."
Méndez-Cera said El Centro is part of the Economic Relief Working Group formed in 2020 to make sure policymakers understand how much immigrants contribute economically. New Mexico is one of four states allowing residents to use their Individual Tax Identification Number, rather than a Social Security number, to claim tax credits, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Amber Wallin, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, pointed out about 17% of children in the state, or 80,000, live with an immigrant parent. She said the rebates are critical for immigrant workers, who represent one in eight workers and pay $400 million in state and local taxes annually.
"What it means is that folks are better able to afford food for their families," Wallin contended. "It can be a rental payment or a house payment for one month for their families. It can mean a major car repair that they've been putting off."
Statewide, about 48% of the New Mexico population identifies as Hispanic or Latino.
Méndez-Cera added immigrant workers and families historically have been excluded from economic relief, tax credits and rebates.
"It is a source of pride that New Mexico is leading the way in a fair tax code," Méndez-Cera asserted. "It is a source of pride that we are rebuilding our economy with such an inclusive mindset."
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