Many Unhappy Returns? Tax-Filing Season Looms for Millions in New Jersey

Colleen O'Dea | January 9, 2015 | Map of the Week, Maps
Good news is that more than 75 percent of Garden State filers will actually get refunds from IRS

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With the arrival of the New Year, thoughts turn to the dreaded annual rite of filing income-tax returns — although the good news, if past years are any indication, is that more than three-quarters of New Jerseyans will wind up getting money back from Uncle Sam.

By the end of the month, employers, banks and investment firms will be sending out the statements New Jerseyans need to either complete their returns or seek an extension by the April 15 deadline.

While filing income taxes is not generally viewed as a pleasant experience — so much so that two years ago nearly two-thirds of all filers in New Jersey used a professional to prepare their 1040s — the process yields a tax refund for most filers in the state.

In 2012, about 76 percent of all New Jersey tax filers, representing 3.3 million returns, had overpaid their income taxes by a total $10.2 billion and were due a refund averaging $3,094, according to the Internal Revenue Service’s most recent Statistics of Income data.

On the other hand, 754,000 people, or about 17 percent of filers, had not paid enough, and owed the federal government an average $5,313, for a total of $4 billion.

The total tax liability for individuals in New Jersey was nearly $51 billion in 2012, an average of $11,834 for each of 4.3 million tax filers.

Some other details about New Jerseyans’ 2012 income and taxes:

* The total adjusted gross income was almost $334 billion, or $77,434 per return. A plurality of returns — 21 percent, or 896,000 — reported adjusted gross income of between $25,000 and $50,000. There were nearly 60,000 returns with less than $1 in income and 17,000 with $1 million or more in income. More than two in 10 filers had at least $100,000 in adjusted gross income. The average adjusted gross income for millionaires was $2.9 million.

* Some 83 percent of filers had salary income, while 38 percent had taxable interest income.

* More than a half-million returns, 13 percent of all, included unemployment income, which averaged $8,351 per filer.

* Close to 600,000 returns reported Social Security benefits, while nearly 800,000 had taxable pension or annuity income and 400,000 had money from taxable individual retirement arrangements.

* Some 20 percent of returns included capital gains or losses, with a net gain of nearly $19,000 reported by the typical filer.

* Four in 10 returns itemized deductions. The total deductions amounted to about 17 percent of adjusted gross income. Just over half the deductions were for state income and sales taxes and property taxes. About 36 percent of all returns included itemized charitable deductions, which totaled more than $5.6 billion, or about $365 per filer.

* Three in 10 returns were able to take advantage of tax credits, including those for child care, education, residential energy, and retirement savings contributions. The average credit was almost $1,400 for those able to take credits.

New Jersey 2012 federal income tax data by adjusted gross income.