In 2015, New Hampshire residents filed almost 685,000 federal tax returns. Roughly 20.6 percent of tax returns in the state reported incomes of $100,000 or more. These tax returns may have included individuals, joint filers, and families with and without dependents, and this analysis does not control for income collected on a per capita basis. However, differences between ZIP Codes indicate a significant geographic disparity in filers reporting high incomes within the state. In eight ZIP Codes, more than 40 percent of total tax filers reported income of $100,000 or more, and one of those had over 50 percent of filers reporting such incomes, whereas in other ZIP Codes no tax filers reported such income levels.
Using publicly-available data from the United States Internal Revenue Service on aggregated 2015 tax returns, the map below shows the percent of tax filers with $100,000 or more in reportable income across the state’s ZIP Codes. In the map, darker green represents ZIP Codes with greater shares of tax filers with $100,000 or more in reportable income.
The southeastern part of the state has the largest shares of tax filers with $100,000 or more in reportable income, whereas the northern part has the lowest shares. This measure showing distributions of higher-income individuals suggests more opportunities to earn higher incomes exist in the southeastern part of the state than in other regions. Opportunities for higher incomes may attract people to certain regions, and fewer opportunities for higher incomes may conversely make other regions less attractive for mobile populations, creating the risk of a downward cycle for lower-income areas.
The share of high-income tax filers by municipality, particularly shared with other measures of income, can be an indication of municipal fiscal capacity. Higher resident incomes in municipalities allows local governments to increase revenue to improve service provision and investment. However, if municipalities have a disproportionately larger number of residents with lower incomes, local governments may face more constraints relative to raising funds, diminishing the quality of services they provide and their ability to make necessary investments.
For more on other metrics of economic activity and fiscal capacity in New Hampshire communities, see NHFPI’s Issue Brief Measuring New Hampshire’s Municipalities: Economic Disparities and Fiscal Capacities.