Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Another misleading email: Joe Legal v. Jose Illegal

Photo used under Creative Commons from stuartpilbrow.

With a simple click of a mouse, another false email has started to infiltrate its way into inboxes across the country. This one is called Joe Legal v. Joe Illegal. It is addressed below:

Here is an example of why hiring illegal aliens is not economically productive for the State of California ...You have 2 families..."Joe Legal" and "Jose Illegal". Both families have 2 parents, 2 children and live in California.

1. "Joe Legal" works in construction, has a Social Security Number, and makes $25.00 per hour with payroll taxes deducted.... "Jose Illegal" also works in construction, has "NO" Social Security Number, and gets paid $15.00 cash "under the table".

Response: The email begins with the fallacy that illegal aliens are being paid off the books. According to the 2005 Economic Report of the President, more than “half of undocumented immigrants are believed to be working ‘on the books,’ so they contribute to the tax rolls but are ineligible for almost all Federal public assistance programs and most major joint Federal-state programs.” You can view the report here.

2. Joe Legal...$25.00 per hour x 40 hours $1000.00 per week, $52,000 per year Now take 30% away for state federal tax. Joe Legal now has $31,231.00. Jose Illegal...$15.00 per hour x 40 hours $600.00 per week, $31,200.00 per year. Jose Illegal pays no taxes... Jose Illegal now has $31,200.00.

Response: It is simply false to say illegal aliens do not pay taxes. The IRS collects income tax from all aliens- irrespective of their legal status- who earn income in the United States. Taxes are generally collected through payroll withholdings and submitted tax returns. Some aliens, including undocumented aliens, are not eligible to receive a social security number for work purposes. Nevertheless, if they work, they will accrue federal income tax liability under the IRS code. To facilitate compliance with income tax law, the IRS developed the ITIN. You can read more about ITINs here. As of June 2006, the IRS had issued more than 7 million ITINs. Read more here. The IRS states that the tax return filing compliance rate for ITIN holders is about 75% . Here at page 52. Illegal aliens also pay taxes through payroll withholding with false, fraudulent, or stolen Social Security Numbers. This money is kept by the government in a “suspense file” and not returned to the illegal alien. The Social Security Administration states that these files represented $56.1 billion in earnings and $7 billion in social security payroll taxes. See here:

3. Joe Legal pays Medical and Dental Insurance with limited coverage $1000.00 per month [$12,000.00 per year]. Joe Legal now has $19,231.00. Jose Illegal has full Medical and Dental coverage through the state and local clinics at a cost of $0.00 per year. Jose Illegal still has $31,200.00.

Response: Ostensibly, the author of this email is referencing Medi-Cal. According to its official government website, “Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program. This is a public health insurance program which provides needed health care services for low-income individuals including families with children, seniors, persons with disabilities, foster care, pregnant women, and low income people with specific diseases such as tuberculosis, breast cancer or HIV/AIDS. Medi-Cal is financed equally by the State and federal government.” Eligibility for this program is based upon income. According to the guidance letter for the California Department of Human Services all aliens (legal or otherwise) must go through a verification process and only aliens lawfully residing in California may receive full benefits. Illegal aliens can only obtain emergency service and some child delivery services. Interestingly, it is quite possible that neither Joe nor Jose could qualify for Medi-Cal because of their income.

4. Joe Legal makes too much money is not eligible for Food Stamps or welfare. Joe Legal pays for food. $1,000.00 per month [$12,000.00 per year]. Joe Legal now has $ 7,231.00. Jose Illegal has no documented income and is eligible for Food Stamps and Welfare. Jose Illegal still has $31,200.00.

Response: Illegal immigrants are not eligible for federal entitlement welfare programs like Food Stamps. Indeed, even legal immigrants are barred from all federal means-tested public benefits for five years by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-193, 110 Stat. 2105 (Aug. 22, 1996) (codified as 8 USC §§1601 et seq.).

5. Joe Legal pays rent. $1,000.00 per month [$12,000.00 per year]. Joe Legal is now in the hole minus (-) $4,769.00. Jose Illegal receives a $500 per month Federal rent subsidy. Jose Illegal pays rent. $500.00 per month (section 8 housing). $6,000.00 per year. Jose Illegal still has $25,200.00.

Response: Unfortunately, this bears repeating. Illegal immigrants are not eligible for Federal welfare benefits like Section 8.

6. Joe Legal now works overtime on Saturdays or gets a part time job after work. Jose Illegal has nights and weekends off to enjoy with his family (and eat out!).

Response: This is an unsupported allegation and is simply made up by the author of this email.

7. Joe Legal's and Jose Illegal's children both attend the same school. Joe Legal pays for his children's lunches while Jose Illegal's children get a government sponsored breakfast & lunch, and they also qualify to be "bused to school" at tax payer expense.

Response: According to the USDA Eligibility Manual for School Meals, these types of school lunches are available for children that are: 1) members of a household that gets welfare; 2) enrolled in Head Start because of low income; 3) homeless, 4) migrants; or 5) runaways. We know nothing about Jose’s children given the fact pattern. Assuming however, they were born in the United States, they are U.S. Citizens and, provided they meet the guidelines, they are eligible for such programs. But according to the fact pattern given, neither Joe nor Jose would be eligible for free or reduced school lunches under the latest guidelines. Also, since this fact pattern is in California, it is very likely that any bus services are going to be sharply curtailed because of budget cuts.

8. Jose Illegal's children have an after school ESL program. Joe Legal's children have to find a way to get to school and go home after school as, "latch-key kids" with no adult supervision.

Response: The voters of California approved all types of after-school programs for all children.

9. Joe Legal and Jose Illegal both enjoy the same Police and Fire Services, but Joe paid for them and Jose did not pay.

Response: This is false. Joe and Jose paid for these local services through their property, sales, and income taxes. Also, the fact pattern tells us that both Jose and Joe are renters (See No. 5), thus their landlord factored in property taxes into their rent.

10. Jose Illegal can send most of his money back home to build a new home for retirement, and have money to buy a new truck (and still have Medi-Cal benefits while living in a foreign country; until someone turns him in to authorities....if they ever find out!!) Joe will be lucky if he has any money for retirement, a new vehicle, medical/dental benefits, or a place to live.

Response: According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 21% of unauthorized aliens in the United States are poor. Thus, it does not appear that while Jose is working construction and supporting a wife and two kids that he is building a “retirement home.” Also, as noted above Jose Illegal would not be eligible for full Medi-Cal benefits.

11. I have done the math, all you have to do is to look at it yourself. Don't hire illegal aliens.....Don't vote for any politician that supports illegal aliens.....And most important of all, write your politicians and let them know how you feel.

Response: It is unlawful to hire someone who is not authorized to work in the United States and it is important to let your elected representatives know how you feel. But please, form your opinions on truth and facts and not on deliberate distortions and false emails.

12. PS: You forgot, Jose illegal's wife claims "single, no head of Household" and collects additional benefits that Joe legal's wife cannot claim. No wonder our country is in trouble!! Think about it!

Response: The fact pattern begins to fall apart with its own distortions. First it claims that Jose does not pay taxes (No. 2), then it claims that “Jose illegal’s [sic] wife” files taxes as “single, no head of Household.” There is no such category. According to the IRS, there are five filing statuses: 1) single, 2) married filing jointly, 3) married filing separately, 4) Head of household; and 5) Qualifying widow(er) with Dependant Child. The Head of Household status usually grants a lower tax rate and higher standard deduction than the single or married filing separately status. Jose’s wife could file as Head of Household- or Joe’s wife for that matter- if they were: 1) unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year; 2) paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year; and a 3) “qualifying person” lived with them. If she met the eligibility, then she is lawfully claiming the status. If not, then she would be filing a fraudulent tax return and committing a crime.

Please keep separating the "wheat from the chaff" and consider your sources of information as you form your opinions about immigration issues.


  1. Good response. It's easy to send an email with false accusations. It takes a lot of research and a lot of work to refute the false accusations with actual facts.

    1. I have seen this e-mail floating around and each time I see people question it they mention that Joe Legal's liability and payments may be off. Some will point out like this one did, that Jose also has tax liability.

      And it is true, many people like Jose pay their taxes there are ways for him to do so. But, the main point is that it is possible for someone to stay outside the system. They can even further abuse the system if for example they couple but stay unmarried to someone from the US who can work a part time job and receive assistance as a single parent.

      The problem I think this letter is aiming at is not so much the legal status of someone who lives in the e-mail is about peopel getting paid under the table. Does it matter if Joe is paying the amount in taxes the letter states ? (in my opinion no) The issue is about Jose getting paid $10 per hour less than Joe and not reporting his income.

    2. The fact remains that Americans have been murdered, raped and robbed by illegals. I am all for a compassionate solution for the good folks who just want a better life, but that 'better life' should include paying taxes, being accountable and obeying the laws of the land. Felons should be kicked out for life.


      Jesus Christ Anonymous,

      This is one of the many privileges of the unprotected illegal class. So creating animosity and misrepresenting a group is not necessary. If you hate them, don't worry, their life blows.

      Remove them and build a wall, or whatever, but don't act like we are being oppressed by the illegal immigrants.

      There are far worse crimes and far more lucrative ones than being undocumented in America.

      If the problem is that they can walk up the border and do a job for less money... I don't see that as a huge problem when they build your home. If being illegal was so great why don't you go for it? Because it fucking sucks and you know that it does.

      I appreciate that people need to protect the borders and I am equally happy with those who protect illegals.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. There is another fundamental problem with this original post. It claims that the amount remaining from the legal worker's gross pay of $52K, after 30% deductions, is $31,200. THe true amount is $36,400.

  4. Thank you very much for your time and effort in researching this. As noted by Tex805, the amount of Joe Legal's taxes appear to be exaggerated and that merits some additional scrutiny.

  5. no one nows this better than our past president,the protection that was put in place by then govener bush.witch was called the harmony clause with meant that working on any site that there must be cooperation between workers,union non-union documented and undocumented, it put the honest contractors at a disadvantige not only from the wage standpoint but the knoledge,by being forced to work side by side, they would learn specific trades some of witch required a 3 and 4 year know those jobs that knowone wanted to do, all put back on the contractor.thank god that some of the laws that were put in place by the previous administration were stoped by the current administration.i guess bush must have thought if it worked so well in texas why not try the rest of the hurts everyone local hospitals,workers,safety,aparently somone must have benifited, due to the amount of supervition they recived on site,and had a compleatly differant set of rules and guidelines(faverable). i pesonaly recived the letter at the gm arlington texas plant.and being a legitement contractor had to abide to this to a cirtain extent,trust me we tested it often,and were getting repramand letters weekly,we finally found a way to protect the skilled workers.the name says it all( harmony)p.s.sorry about the grammar

  6. Still, why are illegals here in the first place??? We wouldn't have this argument if the illegals were deported immediately.

    1. They are here to bust unions and because companies who hire them pay off poiticians to keep them here.

  7. I am deeply indebted to you for researching the facts on this issue. Thank you so much.

  8. Is it ok to use your wonderful research to respond to this email?

  9. Your response saying an illegal pays taxes is also a false comment... the article says the illegal is working under the table. Since when does a person working under the table or off books pay state and national taxes along with contributions to social security and workers comp?

    1. Response: The email begins with the fallacy that illegal aliens are being paid off the books. According to the 2005 Economic Report of the President, more than “half of undocumented immigrants are believed to be working ‘on the books,’ so they contribute to the tax rolls but are ineligible for almost all Federal public assistance programs and most major joint Federal-state programs.”

  10. Illegal aliens are illegal aliens. The don't belong here and when found should be arrested and deported. You would never say its ok to kill someone would you well you can't pick which laws to follow. I have no problem with anyone from another country coming over here legally, in fact I welcome it. Thats what makes America so great, its diversity, but illegal aliens no matter their race are breaking the law. Most illegal aliens are good people, in fact I bet at least 90% are but its the 10% that come over here illegaly and bring drugs and gang violence over here that ruin it for the good people looking for a new life. The 10% now have free rein to commit crimes and go undetected because they are not in the system like the legal newcomers. When an illegal alien kills someone you care about then you will change your mind. By the way once that illegal knows the cops are looking for him, hes back to his homeland and another one of his gang members transports the drugs over and takes his place in the gang. MS 13 do you research. And this is only the 10 percent we are talking about. The other 90% are just working towards a better life but in order to fix the problem you can't break the law. Instead of turning your back on illegal immigration, why dont you ask your senators to reform the immigration laws.

  11. Illegals, get out, and get out NOW!
    1st Strike, deported
    6 months hard labor camp if caught second time.
    10 years if caught again.
    Sun-up to Sun-set.. HARD manual labor.
    This would help stop it!

    1. shhhhh. your ignorance is showing.

  12. """According to the 2005 Economic Report of the President, more than “half of undocumented immigrants are believed to be working ‘on the books,’ so they contribute to the tax rolls but are ineligible for almost all Federal public assistance programs and most major joint Federal-state programs.” You can view the report here."""

    I stopped reading after this paragraph. Wow, almost 50%? Estimated? Great start to your little "logic bomb". If you are going to try and argue the facts, please use facts that aren't guesstimates from a 5 year old report, it just makes you look more ignorant than you actually are.

    1. The number was more then 50 % in 2005. Do you have any idea how many of your fellow citizens work off book and under report income? It's more common then you might think. I volunteer helping the working poor complete their taxes. It is a common question in my experience.

  13. Well, last week I got an email saying the bottom 54% pay no taxes. So why are they claiming these guys should pay taxes? And how do you hold such conflicting beliefs and not have your head explode?

  14. I always understood that insurance was protection against something that might or might not happen (e.g. fire, theft), and assurance was protection against something that was bound to happen sooner or later (e.g. death).
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  15. You've bought the fact that these people are paying taxes based on "belief", stated in the President's report. If someone gets paid cash, there are NO records kept - no taxes paid. You're fooling yourself if you don't think that this happens on a wide scale. Even with your explanations above, you've accounted for less than half of the illegals in the country. What about the other half?

    Don't be fooled. I've worked in labor intensive jobs. They get paid by cash all the time. Since their wage isn't reported, they can get access to government funds on many levels.

  16. I work at a place where a Hispanic male told the manager that he was going to quit if they didn't stop taking taxes out if his check because he had never had to pay taxes. He also told me that his family received food stamps. So I totally believe this article. I work with a few Hispanics that have more than one name and social security number. So don't lie to people and say that it doesn't happen because it does.

    1. You "work with a few Hispanics that have more than one name and social security number." Have you thought about turning them in? I don't get people like you. You have the power to do something, but somewhere inside of you, you know that breaking apart a family and destroying the lives of these people is wrong, or you would do it. Have you ever heard of cognitive dissonance?

  17. the only RATIONAL breakdown in the blog:
    "Why are illegals here in the first place??? "

    My family came here looking for a better way of life and did it legally; it was a lengthy process to become citizens, but we succeeded and are legal. Know how I did it? - I served YOUR (now MY) COUNTRY. Illegals - it's an INSULT to me and mine. As for the the obvious bleeding heart lefty who initiated this - how much time did you spending digging up the "facts" to disprove AN EMAIL? It's not as if its published in a scholarly journal! Just goes to show - YOU HAVE NOTHING TO DO, you take your country and your life FOR GRANTED. Tell you what - live in a semi-developed nation for a while (or prison works too).... where there is NO sense of security - or freedom, the education system is terrible, policia/ justice system are ran by CLEAR cartels, your life isn't worth a donut, and one can't EXPECT to see their loved ones come home from work or your children... as they MAY - if blessed with good looks - end up kid-napped and shuffled into the sex-trade/slavery. OHHH, hahaha not to mention your don't have the electricity nor the bon-bons to write/research and fatten yourself up simultaneously. You DISGUST ME more than the illegals. YOU should be deported - because you bring NOTHING to the table except encouraging an entilted agenda with an education founded in school house theory - NOT THE REAL WORLD.

    1. You're an idiot

    2. Excellent response. You are exactly the kind of immigrant who makes this country great.Wsh there were more of YOU!!!

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    Joe works in construction and makes $25.00 per hour with taxes deducted.
    Ready?... now pay attention....
    Joe: $25.00 per hour × 40 hours = $1,000.00 per week or $52,000.00 per year. Now, take 31% away for State and Federal taxes. Joe legal now has $31,231.00.

    Joe pays medical and dental insurance with limited coverage for his family at $600.00 per month, or $7,200.00 per year. Joe now has $24,031.00.

    Joe makes too much money and is not eligible for food stamps or welfare. Joe spends $500.00 per month for food or $6,000.00 per year. Joe now has $18,031.00.

    Joe pays rent of 1,200.00 per month or $14,400.00 per year. Joe now has $9,631.00.

    Joe pays $200.00 per month or $2,400.00 per year for car insurance. Some of that is uninsured motorist insurance. Joe now has $7,231.00.

    Joe has to make his $7,231.00 stretch to pay utilities, gasoline.. etc.

    Joe now works overtime on Saturdays or gets a part time job after work.

    Joe’s children attend elementary school.
    Joe has to pay for his childrens lunches because he makes too much to be considered for reduced or free lunches.

    Joe’s children go home.
    Now, when they reach college age...
    Joe kids may not get into a State school and may not qualify for scholarships, grants or other tuition help, even though Joe has been paying for State schools through even more taxes...

    Joe benefits from police and fire services, but he has to pay for that too through more tax

    If we vote for or support any politician that supports more taxation,... we are part of the problem.
    Its way PAST time to take a stand for America and Americans!
    We need to keep this going -- we need to make changes ASAP!
    What are you waiting for?...Pass it on!