Where Are the Most Child Tax Credits Claimed?

April 29, 2015

This week's county-by-county tax map shows the percentage of taxpayers taking the Child Tax Credit (CTC), a refundable tax credit that varies by number of children and amount of earned income.

To look up your county, mouse over it on the interactive map here.

There is substantial variation among counties. In total, the range spans from a high of 31% in Shannon County SD to a low of 5% in Sumter County FL. There is even strong variation among counties within the same state. In California, for example, only 7% of filers in San Francisco County take the CTC. However, a couple hundred miles down I-5 in Kings County, 25% of filers take the CTC.

There are several reasons for this variation. One of the most obvious of these is that highly urban areas are usually populated with more single adults than families. For this reason, San Francisco County (7%), Arlington County VA (6%), and New York County NY (6%) all have very few CTC takers. These are three of the four lowest proportions – but, as mentioned, the absolute lowest number comes from Sumter County in Florida (5%).

Sumter County is a different story, one shared with Charlotte County (9%) and Citrus County (10%) in the same state, as well as several counties in northern Michigan. These counties have so few CTC takers because they have so many more retirees than the national average. A look at our previous map on retirement income confirms this. In Sumter County, for example, almost half of all personal taxable income comes from Social Security, pensions, or private retirement accounts.

There are other factors besides age, though. The CTC is means-tested, meaning that families with high incomes are often not eligible. For this reason, Falls Church VA (9%) has very few people taking the credit, even though it is a perfectly nice place to raise children. Falls Church is simply too wealthy, and many of its residents are ineligible. Farther west, though, in Manassas Park, 22% of filers took the CTC.

Finally, culture plays a strong role. Utah tends to have high rates of CTC filing – even in its more urban counties – because people of parenting age there tend to have more children than in other states.

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