Top Taxpaying Towns in Central Mass
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
GoLocalWorcester obtained detailed information on just how much taxpayers in 74 communities paid and broke it down into a Top 10 list. GoLocalWorcester also compiled a list with all cities and towns in order from highest income taxes paid to lowest, collective and individual.
Data was culled from 2009, the most recent year of complete income tax statistics. Information for 2010 will be released next year, according to Robert Bliss, Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) spokesman.
In 2009, the average income tax payment was $3,456.21. It was a lot higher in towns such as Southborough, where 3,557 taxpayers paid a whopping average of $10,579.42. Collectively, they paid $37.6 million.
Of the communities included in our rankings, 26 paid within the state average of $3,300-$3,800, the lowest being Orange with an average of $1,884.76.
The Top 10 Central Mass towns that pay the most income tax per person:
In Southborough, a rural town of less than 10,000 people, the estimated median household income, as of 2007, was $133,348. That figure is important, because “income” is the key word when discussing income taxes, Bliss said.
"There is a direct correlation between the income of the individual taxpayer and the amount of taxes paid," he said. "That's assuming, of course, that they're paying their income taxes." It stands to reason, he said, that residents of more affluent communities will pay more in tax. "It is fully a function of having more income," Bliss said. "They're not taxed at a higher rate." Bliss noted the state income tax rate was 5.3 percent in 2009. It is now 5.25.
It is worth keeping in mind, Bliss added, that in high-income brackets, the figures may reflect a capital gains tax. "In some of the very high-income communities," Bliss said, "you're seeing increased taxes for earnings, but also a tax on capital gains."
What Worcester Pays
Worcester taxpayers paid an average of $2,168.47 in state income tax in 2009, well below the state average. Not surprisingly, because of the city’s size, taxpayers paid the most overall state income taxes - $159,962,000. There were 58,088 Worcester taxpayers in 2009.
The Top 10 Central Mass communities that collectively pay the most in state income tax:
To see the whole list click here: Download PDF
The numbers are all relative, At-Large Councilor Frederick Rushton said. "It is what it is," he said. "(The city) is growing. The Brookings Institute just listed us as the third best metro area in terms of job growth among 100 metro cities in the country. That's what we need to be saying over and over."
As the local economy improves, and more jobs are filled, the numbers will likely change, Rushton noted. "Worcester has a growing economy," he said. "It will continue to grow."
Tax or no tax?
Any discussion about state income taxes inevitably turns to whether there should be one in the first place. Worcester residents had different, but distinct, thoughts about that. "I don't think there should be one," said Robert Riordan, an area professional. "I work hard and would like to keep it all. I would rather decide what to do with it."
The state could make it up elsewhere, he said, such as reigning in spending. He also thinks other cuts could be made. "I think the state provides far too many services and is too reliant on an income tax," Riordan said.
Jason Ly disagreed. A city worker, Ly said everyone should pay his or her share. "Everybody pays," he said. Asked whether he thought that should change, Ly said with a smile, "I don't make that much, so I don't matter."
Another city resident, who didn't want to give his name, voiced support for an income tax. "It helps pay for local services and that's important," he said, adding he is currently unemployed. "But I don't mind paying taxes."
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