Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Comparing your taxes to your neighbors'

Admit it. You like to compare yourself to your colleagues, neighbors, even family members. It's natural to want to know just how we stack up.
Taxes depend on numerical data, making them ripe for ranking analysis. And the Internal Revenue Service even helps us by breaking out the information it collects.
The agency's Statistics of Income Division recently released data for every U.S. ZIP code for which 250 or more returns were filed between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2009.  For the most part, these Form 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ tax returns were for the 2008 tax year, although the IRS says that a "limited number" of late-filed returns for prior tax years also were sent in during that period.
So that we don't have to sort through a gigantic spreadsheet, the IRS provides the data for each state. Thanks!
Of course, I immediately headed to the Texas database to see just where my taxes fit in. I learned a good number of my neighbors make more money than the hubby and I do. But then I already  knew that based on the luxury cars parked in many neighboring driveways.
Then I got to wondering just which Texas ZIP code had the most high-income filers. In this particular IRS data breakout, that's $200,000 or more adjusted gross income.
The answer is 77479. And it is this week's By the Numbers figure.
77479 richest Texas tax returns 2008
That's the ZIP code for Sugar Land, a Houston suburb. You might not know the town by name, but if you use Imperial Sugar products, you're familiar with Sugar Land.
Three tax years ago, 4,631 returns showing an address in the sweet community reported AGI of $200,000 or more. That represents 15 percent of Sugar Land's 30,766 returns that year.
Sugar Land also also had a hefty number of taxpayers reporting adjusted income between $100,000 and $199,999. There were 7,545 returns in that income category, almost 25 percent of the returns. That income bracket was Sugar Land's largest earnings segment, both in raw numbers and percentage wise.
Another suburban Houston ZIP code, 77024 in Hunter's Creek Village, had the next largest number of $200,000 plus filers in 2008: 4,626. And 2,323 returns in that community reported AGI between $100,000 and $199,999.

One more Texas ZIP code, 75093 which covers Plano, had more than 4,000 filers in the top income bracket. Residents of this Dallas-area town had 4,014 high-income earners and almost that many, 4,010, reported income in the next lower, relatively speaking, income bracket.
Rounding out the top 10 Texas ZIP codes reporting substantial returns with more than $200,000 AGI are:
77005 with 3,896 returns
76092 with 3,848 returns
75225 with 3,635 returns
75034 with 3,561 returns
77379 with 3,150 returns
77494 with 3,070 returns
77382 with 3,000 returns
Sorry. You'll have to Google these seven ZIP codes to find out just where they are.
Even though my neighborhood didn't make the IRS high earner list, I still think it's a pretty darn nice place to live. But I will admit to wanting to break into the top tax filing bracket for my ZIP code as soon as I can.

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