Defining income

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The Joint Committee on Taxation and the Census Bureau use different methods to total income. The JCT reports expanded income by filing units, which includes adjusted gross income plus other forms of revenue such as tax-exempt interest, employer contributions for health and life insurance and worker’s compensation. The Census Bureau reports cash income, which includes wages, social security and unemployment compensation, among other things. It does not include non-cash benefits such as food stamps, health benefits and subsidized housing.

While the two income definitions may not perfectly align, taxpayers included in an income category as defined by the Census Bureau would be approximately be included in a similar income category as defined by the JCT, said tax analysts at Washington think tanks.