As if tax returns weren't confusing enough . . .
The state Franchise Tax Board recently released its 1995 figures on personal income. Orange County ranked 14th in the state, with a median income of $25,530 on all returns filed. But in joint returns, the county placed eighth, with a $48,655 median income.
Why the difference? Ted Gibson, chief economist at the state Department of Finance, said it could be that Orange County has a larger share of single tax filers. That doesn't necessarily mean there are more single people here, but probably reflects that many married people are filing their tax returns separately to avoid the so-called "marriage penalty," he said.
Gibson believes that the No. 8 ranking is closer to the true status of personal income in Orange County. At any rate, he prefers the personal income figures compiled by the U.S. Department of Commerce--which are also derived from information provided in tax returns but are measured differently. Those numbers for 1995 are due out next month.
Patrice Apodaca covers economic issues for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-5979 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.