U.S. Loses $150 Billion Annually in Remittances, Says New FAIR Study
(May 22, 2019, Washington, D.C.) —Foreign-born workers are sending roughly $150 billion each year in remittances to friends, family members and associates outside the United States, finds a new study published by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Illegal aliens alone remit more than $28 billion annually. This $150 billion represents a direct loss to our economy, siphoning off valuable capital and reducing government revenues.
The study analyzes the most recent Census and World Bank data to understand how remittances affect both the U.S. and foreign economies. The report examines the impact of remittances in developing nations and the social and economic consequences associated with these forms of payments. Included in the report are solutions to address the adverse consequences of large-scale remittances to both the United States and the receiving nations.
“The study’s findings expose one of the least discussed aspects of U.S. immigration policy,” said FAIR President Dan Stein. “The nation’s generous and lax immigration policies have led billions of dollars to flow out of our economy untaxed, which is a disservice to Americans,” he said. “At a time when our country urgently needs tax revenue to improve physical and societal infrastructure programs, it’s imperative to address this drain on our resources immediately.”
- Every year, foreign-born individuals living in the U.S. remit close to $150 billion from the United States to other countries. In comparison, Americans residing abroad only sent home $6.5 billion in 2017, a U.S. net loss of $144.5 billion.
- Remittances are generally not subjected to international money transfer taxes, or sales and excise taxes. This missing tax revenue could fund a large number of U.S. public services.
- Countries receiving significant amounts of remittance income tend to suffer from the “brain-drain” effect, because locals receiving hard currency from abroad often spend it to emigrate. This, in turn, impedes economic development in remittance- receiving nations.
- Because a benefactor abroad is meeting one’s economic needs, remittance payments frequently act like a welfare program, disincentivizing participation in the labor force and perpetuating a cycle of dependence on foreign financial support.
- Many nations rely heavily on remittances. In fact, remittances make up 10 percent or more of the total GDP in approximately 35 countries.
- Mexico is the primary beneficiary of U.S. remittance transfers, receiving just over $30 billion in 2017.
- Based on current estimates by FAIR, illegal aliens send about $28.8 billion home annually in the form of remittances.
- If all 50 states had a remittance tax in 2017, they would have kept up to $1.5 billion circulating through the U.S. economy.
The study is available in its entirety here.
Contact: Matthew Tragesser, 202-328-7004