Tax deductions vary by county

In about one in ten counties, 11 percent or fewer taxpayers itemize while in another 10 percent at least 38 percent of taxpayers claim deductions.

By , Guest blogger

  • close
    A 2013 1040-ES IRS Estimated Tax form at H & R Block tax preparation office in the Echo Park district of Los Angeles. IRS.gov has unveiled changes for the 2014 tax season, including adjustments for inflation and higher rates for high-income taxpayers.
    View Caption

Taxpayer use of itemized deductions varies widely by location, according to a new analysis of 2007 IRS data. In about one in ten counties, 11 percent or fewer taxpayers itemize while in another 10 percent at least 38 percent of taxpayers claim deductions. In a handful of counties, more than half of taxpayers itemize. In general, taxpayers in high-cost, high-tax counties located along the coasts are far more likely to itemize than those in living in in the middle of the country (see map).

About one in three tax filers itemizes. The largest itemized deductions are for mortgage interest, state and local taxes, and gifts to charity. Others include certain medical expenses, job-related expenses, and casualty and theft losses. The Pease provision limits itemized deductions for upper-income taxpayers.

The variation in itemized deductions depends on many factors, but is driven by differences in income. For example, taxpayers with higher incomes own more expensive homes and carry larger mortgages and thus pay more in mortgage interest. Some live in states and counties with higher taxes. Taxpayers with higher incomes tend to give larger gifts to charity, and they tend to cluster along the east and west coasts.

Recommended: Taxes in 2014: 7 new rules and 9 wacky deductions

Not only does the share of taxpayers who itemize vary greatly from county-to-county, so does the amount they claim. Among those taxpayers itemizing, the median county-level deduction was $18,590 in 2007. However, in 10 percent of counties, taxpayers itemized an average of $16,640 or less, while in another 10 percent they deducted an average of $22,990 or more. In about 1 percent, taxpayers deducted an average in excess of $35,020.

Where do the biggest itemizers live? Not surprisingly in high-cost, high-income urban counties located in southern California and the corridor between Washington, DC and Boston, and around major inland cities such as Chicago and Denver. Inland and rural counties tend to benefit less from itemization.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on taxvox.taxpolicycenter.org.

Share this story:
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...