Pew map shows disparities in tax break use

A new interactive map from the Pew Charitable Trusts illustrates stark differences in how tax breaks are claimed around the country.

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In all, around one in three households claim itemized deductions, giving them tax breaks on housing, charitable contributions and in a variety of other areas.

But as the Pew map shows, taxpayers in some states — generally in the Northeast and on the West Coast — are far more likely than others to claim itemized deductions, underscoring the challenges that Washington faces in reforming a tax code where lawmakers have constituent interests to protect. 

For instance, close to half of the filers in Maryland, 47.9 percent, claim itemized deductions — the highest number in the country. But right next door in West Virginia, less than one in five filers, or 18.8 percent, itemize.

Plus, on average, taxpayers in New York ($34,168) itemize claims close to $14,000 more a year than do itemizers in Alaska ($20,559).

And while taxpayers on the coasts are more likely to claim itemized deductions, filers in Southern states appear more likely to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit. Filers in Mississippi are the most likely in the country to claim the EITC (almost 33 percent of households) and the child credit (almost 23 percent).