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April 4, 2015

Portrait of affluence in Bergen County, state
By Kathleen Lynn

Bergen County's adjusted gross income rose almost 8 percent, to above $101,000, in 2012, boosted by the stock market's healthy performance that year, according to a new analysis of income tax data. Bergen's rise in income was one of the more striking findings of an analysis of 2012 federal tax data the latest available by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse of Syracuse University. As the April 15 tax filing deadline approaches, the center, which analyzes Internal Revenue Service and other federal data, released figures about incomes around the nation. Passaic County did not fare nearly as well as its neighbor, with adjusted gross income of only $54,028 in 2012 still below the pre-recession year of 2007. Adjusted gross income, drawn from individual or jointly filed tax returns, is a measure used by the IRS that includes wages, interest, dividends and other income but does not include the non-taxable portion of Social Security or tax-exempt interest. Like other studies of income, the TRAC analysis shows New Jersey as one of the most affluent states in the nation. According to TRAC, at $77,684, New Jersey had the fourth-highest adjusted gross income in the nation in 2012, after Connecticut, the District of Columbia and Massachusetts. The national average AGI was $62,645. Within the state, Bergen had the fourth-highest AGI. Bergen County taxpayers not only had much higher wages than most places in New Jersey at an average of $68,350 per return but they also enjoyed much higher dividends and interest income. This reflects the fact that affluent households are more likely to have investments in stocks, bonds and other financial instruments. For example, Bergen taxpayers reported dividends averaging $3,841 in 2012, compared with an average of $865 in Passaic and $1,909 in New Jersey.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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