An analysis of tax liens across the U.S. found that New York City, with some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the nation, was the country’s leading area to be on the receiving end of federal tax liens.

The analysis was conducted by TaxLifeboat, a company that helps taxpayers deal with their IRS debts. A review of IRS tax liens across the country by the company in the 12 months ended September 15 found that New York City accounts for nine, or 18 percent, of the top 50 U.S. zip codes with the most liens recorded over the past 12 months.

Four of the New York City zip codes include some of Manhattan's affluent neighborhoods, the company noted, including the Upper West Side (10025 and 10023), Chelsea (10011), and Murray Hill (10016). The remaining five New York City zip codes are in minority and working-class areas of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

Manhattan's tax debtors earn an average of 250 percent more than those in the city's less affluent neighborhoods, according to recent U.S. Census data. The average IRS debt of Manhattan's wealthier tax debtors is $58,592, about 86 times higher than the amount owed by working-class New Yorkers.

“The statistics suggest a rather harsh reality,” said TaxLifeboat founder Tom Evans. “Some people in New York apparently choose not to pay their taxes, and some simply don't have the means to do so.”

Virtually all of the remaining zip codes in the top 50 are located in minority and economically depressed neighborhoods. Six of these neighborhoods are in Las Vegas, four in Washington, D.C., and three in Detroit.

New York’s top ranking for tax debtors is not an aberration. A TaxLifeboat analysis of nationwide tax liens from July 2009 to July 2010 revealed that New York City accounted for 16, or 32 percent, of the top 50 U.S. zip codes with the most tax liens. Six of those New York zip codes were located in Manhattan. Evans noted that New York’s lower presence in the top 50 is not necessarily due to New Yorkers developing a sudden surge of civic responsibility, but instead the result of an increasing number of working-class Americans who have been hard hit by the recession and do not have the means to pay their tax debts.

The study is based on an analysis of the top 50 zip codes with the highest number of IRS tax liens from Sept. 15, 2010 to Sept. 15, 2011 as reported by InfoUSA, as well as data from January to September 2011 as reported by National Court Research, along with the latest U.S. Census data available at the zip code level from 2000.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access