View of Berkeley from the hills
Berkeleyans with views from the hills have the highest incomes in the city, according to 2018 data from the Franchise Tax Board. Photo: Peter Sussman Credit: Peter Sussman

Residents in the Berkeley Hills have average incomes far in excess of those who live in the flats. That’s long been a truism of Berkeley’s demographics, but data from 2018 tax filings with the Franchise Tax Board make clear just how large the gap is.

In the north Berkeley hills, data from zip code 94708 (which includes some of unincorporated Kensington) shows an average income of $257,594, well ahead of 94707 (which also includes some of Kensington) which is at $197,316, and 94705 (which takes in the Elmwood and Claremont neighborhoods, and includes some of Oakland) at $192,122. The data are per tax filing which could be a joint filing for a household or for one person.

Away from the hills, data from most of Berkeley’s zip codes show incomes in the $80,000 range, except for 94704 which embraces downtown, where the average income is $56,745, and the comparative handful of tax filers in the UC Berkeley zip code 94720, which averages $24,755. (Very few filers live in 94720 because it’s largely the university campus, plus some Southside dorms plus the Clark Kerr campus. Most students who file, file from their home address.)

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Judy Lin from CalMatters recently compiled the FTB data to show what the average tax filer made and paid in all of California’s zip codes. Atherton topped the list: the average income in the Silicon Valley suburb was $1,700,712, with an average tax liability of $196,205. Mecca in Riverside County stood at the bottom of the CalMatters table, for a zip code with a significant number of tax returns, with average income of $23,725 and average taxes of $112.

The map below, created by CalMatters’ Matt Levin, is searchable for all of California:

Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...