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State of California Franchise Tax Board

Bay Area Again Leads in Median Income

Four Bay Area counties again top California's 2004 median income report, according to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB). Over the past 33 years, the counties of Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, and Santa Clara have consistently reported the highest median incomes

California taxpayers filed 14.5 million 2004 state income tax returns with the FTB reporting slightly more than $1.04 trillion 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 14.6 percent over 2003 figures that reported $905.7 billion, according to the FTB.

"This income growth is good news, but Sacramento must continue working to make housing, healthcare, and higher education more affordable," said State Controller and Chair of the FTB Steve Westly.

Statewide, the median income on all returns was $33,223, up three percent over 2003, while the median income on joint returns was $61,084, an increase of 4.1 percent over 2003.

"After a period when median income barely grew, these latest figures are welcome news for our state's economy," said Chair of the State Board of Equalization and FTB Member John Chiang. "For that same period, retail and wholesale receipts on taxable goods rose 8.7 percent in California."

Marin County still has the highest median income for joint returns, reporting $99,902, an increase of 5.8 percent over 2003. San Mateo County ranked second with $85,800, Santa Clara County ranked third with $85,446 and Contra Costa County ranked fourth with $80,667. The largest percentage gain in median income for all counties was 11.6 percent, reported in Alpine County. For joint filed returns the largest increase was in Mariposa County, with a 6.2 percent increase.

"Median incomes are a good indicator that the state economy is heading in the right direction," said Director of the Department of Finance and FTB Member Michael C. Genest.

“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 individual or couple.

Los Angeles County taxpayers filed more than 25 percent of all 2004 tax returns. They reported median incomes of $28,686 for all returns, and $52,170 for joint returns, ranking 39 and 33, respectively.

Editor's note: For specific county information, see the attached chart. For 2003-1999 data, please go to, “News” and “Statewide Press Releases” for the electronic version of this news release.

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