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Distributing the Green (Cards): Permanent Residency and Personal Income Taxes after the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

Elizabeth U. Cascio, Ethan G. Lewis

NBER Working Paper No. 24872
Issued in July 2018, Revised in December 2018
NBER Program(s):Children, Labor Studies, Public Economics

We explore how permanent residency affects personal income tax participation and net personal income tax payments using variation from the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), which authorized the largest U.S. amnesty to date. We exploit the timing and geographic unevenness of IRCA’s legalization programs alongside newly digitized data on personal income taxes in California, home to the majority of applicants. Green Cards induced the previously unauthorized to file state income tax returns at rates comparable to other California residents. While the new returns generated little additional revenue through the end of the 1990s, they did raise the incomes of families with children through new claims of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24872

Published: Elizabeth U. Cascio & Ethan G. Lewis, 2019. "Distributing the Green (Cards): Permanent residency and personal income taxes after the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986," Journal of Public Economics, vol 172, pages 135-150.

 
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