Federal Tax Returns: Latest Rankings by County, State and More

TRAC has updated its interactive Taxpayer Returns application with the latest data available from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This unique tool makes it easy to browse through TRAC's extensive store of information on the constantly shifting types of income that flow to taxpayers in the fifty states and every one of the more than 3,000 counties.

Top and Bottom Counties

Here are some results you can get by using the "Top and Bottom 50 Only" option to rank counties according to the latest tax data available for filing year 2013:

  • Exemptions: When it comes to exemptions claimed per taxpayer, Adams County (Othello) in Washington is number one in the country, with 2.77. At the other end is New York County (Manhattan) in New York with only 1.55 exemptions.
  • Wages and Salaries: New York County (Manhattan) in New York reported the highest average wages and salaries of $96,941. At the other end is Catron County (Glenwood) in New Mexico with average wages and salaries of only $16,280.
  • Dividend Income: Teton County (Moose) in Wyoming reported the highest average dividend income with $32,793. At the bottom of the rankings was Sioux County (Fort Yates) in North Dakota, with an average of only twelve dollars.
  • Adjusted Gross Income: When all income sources are combined, Teton County (Moose) in Wyoming again topped the list with an average of $296,778 in adjusted gross income reported, while Gooding County (Hagerman) in Idaho came in last, reporting an average of only $15,379 in adjusted gross income on returns filed there.

State Rankings

In addition to county listings, states can also be ranked by the same measures. Here are a few state results:

  • The highest average number of exemptions were claimed on returns filed in Utah, Idaho and Texas, in that order. The District of Columbia, Vermont and Rhode Island took the lowest three spots.
  • The top three states in terms of average wages and salaries were Connecticut, the District of Columbia and New Jersey, respectively. The lowest figures were reported for Mississippi, Montana and New Mexico.
  • The highest dividend income was reported in Wyoming, Connecticut and Arkansas, in that order. At the other end, the lowest dividend income was reported in Mississippi, West Virginia and Alabama.

County Data from A to Z

Besides identifying the counties in the fifty top and bottom spots, TRAC's Taxpayer Returns application allows you to look up any one of the 3,000 plus counties and see where it ranks — within the same state or across the nation as a whole. Then you can sort counties by rank, or look at an alphabetical list of all counties, to quickly find how they stacked up. For example, looking at adjusted gross income for all 3,137 counties, from A to Z:

  • Abbeville County (Abbeville) in South Carolina ranked 32nd in the state and 2,751 nationally in terms of adjusted gross income, while Acadia Parish (Crowley) in Louisiana ranked 21st in the state and 949 in the country.
  • Ziebach County (Dupree) in South Dakota ranked 60th in the state and 2,764 overall for adjusted gross income, while Zavala County (Batesville) in Texas ranked 2,818 nationally and 237th in the state.

Communities Benefiting from Recent Economic Trends

Taxpayers in thousands of communities in the United States experience changes in income due to shifts in their local economies and industries. The graphing capabilities of TRAC's Taxpayer Returns application lets you plot any series over time. By hovering the pointer over the plot, you can display the values for any particular year. With the latest results you can explore whether and how far communities have bounced back from the recent recession, which communities have become a magnet for the wealthy or who has benefited from the recent oil shale boom. For example:

  • Pitkin County (Aspen) in Colorado reported an average adjusted gross income on federal tax returns of $73,775 ten years ago, ranking 35th among all counties. In filing year 2013, this jumped to $173,299 and the county zoomed up in the rankings to the fifth highest income among the 3,137 counties in the nation.
  • Ten years ago, McKenzie County (Watford City) in North Dakota reported an average adjusted gross income of $32,148 and ranked 2,318 in the nation. In filing year 2013 its ranking had moved up to the eleventh highest in the country with $133,898 on average reported on federal returns.

The data reported on federal income tax returns — including adjusted gross income, wages and salaries earned, interest income, dividend income and exemptions claimed — provide unique views of the economic conditions of the country as a whole, as well as for each state and county over the last two decades. At the same time, the tax return information offers unusual insights about the sources of the income flowing from income taxes into the federal coffers.