Tax season is here again. For many, it is a hell on earth where we frantically flung open boxes and cupboards in search of that one piece of paper hiding among the debris that will allow you to file the damn taxes but, in a fit of cleaning, you probably threw away.

You get the visual, right? 

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But, for Latinos, this dreadful season of pay-what-you-owe-and then some proves what we have always known — that we hold a big chunk of the United States economy. It’s called El Poder de la Cartera — the Power of the Purse. 

It’s spending power, that thing that moves economies

There are few groups more critical to the US economy than Latinos.

Latinos are the most significant contributor to U.S. population growth, accounting for 54%, and Latino households hold a considerable portion of the nation’s spending power.

Even so, Latinos continue to face in your face and subliminal racism, discrimination, and hate crimes

We are underrepresented in film, high-tech jobs, and the federal government workforce. In addition, we are told not to speak Spanish in public (when the US has no official language!) and to assimilate. 

But, we already carry a large part of the economic brunt; that’s assimilation enough. Hell, Latinos are holding up the crumbling American Dream.   

So, what do Latinos contribute to the US economy in real numbers? 

Nationwide, Latino households contribute at least $139 billion in federal taxes and almost $76 billion in state and local taxes. In addition, nearly five million Latino-owned businesses contribute over $800 billion to the U.S. economy annually. 

And regarding legal or undocumented status, it doesn’t matter — Latinos contribute to the IRS annually by filing their taxes using social security or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). 

There is a reason the IRS doesn’t share ITIN information with the immigration authorities — and that reason is a lot of money.  

In 2010, the IRS reported that about 3 million Latino ITIN holders paid more than $870 million in income taxes, which account for about 12 million immigrants living in the US

ITIN holders also keep public and local government services running, paying more than $10.6 billion in state and local taxes. 

And did you know that Latinos are vital in sustaining the US’s Medicare and Social Security programs by paying taxes?

Bet you didn’t. 

In 2015, Latinos contributed $101.8 billion to Social Security and $25.3 billion to Medicare’s leading trust fund. 

The Latino community’s contribution to the U.S. economy and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is one of the most significant nationwide. 

The conclusion? The growing Latino Cartera Power makes them significant contributors to U.S. tax revenue and keeps this country running.

As actor John Leguizamo said in a recent interview, understanding Latino power and embracing it is empowering.

“It gave me confidence […] power. It made me much more political and outspoken. [Understanding Latino power] made me want to get loud and make noise. And that’s what we got to do,” he said. 

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, my dearest Karen.