State Reports on Median Income for 2003

Four Bay Area counties again reported the highest median income while the median income of all state returns rose slightly in 2003, according to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB).

The statewide median income on all returns was $32,242, an increase of 1.6 percent over 2002's median income amount. For joint returns, the statewide median income was $58,653, a gain of 1.1 percent from 2002.

“Median income” is the point where one-half of the tax returns are above and one-half are below the midpoint of the range of values. Median income represents the income reported by a typical California person or couple.

Californians filed more than 14.2 million 2003 state income tax returns with the FTB, reporting $907.2 billion of adjusted gross income. Adjusted gross income is a tax term that means gross income minus specific tax deductions, but before Federal Schedule A itemized deductions. This is an increase of 5.4 percent from the 2002 tax year's reported $860.9 billion.

Over the past 32 years, the Bay Area counties of Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, and Santa Clara have consistently reported the highest median incomes. Marin County recorded the highest median income for joint returns, reporting $94,410, an increase of more than 2.1 percent over 2002. San Mateo County ranked second with $81,621, while Santa Clara County ranked third with $81,233 and Contra Costa County ranked fourth with $78,366.

Los Angeles County taxpayers filed 25.8 percent of all 2003 income tax returns in California. They reported median incomes of $27,746 for all returns, and $49,701 for joint returns, ranking 40th and 33rd, respectively.

The largest percentage gain in median income for all counties, on all returns, was 5.7 percent, reported in Alpine County ($36,124). For joint returns, Alpine County again reported the largest increase of 9.9 percent ($61,315).

Editor's Note: Please refer to the attached chart for specific county information. For 1999-2002 data, see our Web site at and go to the 2004 archives.

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