Utah Families = Exemptions

by | Jun. 01, 2006

LDS Life

      When it comes to big families, Utah County is ranked eighth out of more than 3,100 counties, based on the number of exemptions claimed on 2004 tax returns.
      The 2.83 exemptions per return mean that Utah County produces larger families than many of its national neighbors, based on research from Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.
      The top big-family honor, however, falls to two other Utah counties — it's a tie between Juab and Sanpete, with an average of 2.90 exemptions per tax return.
      Claiming a child as an exemption in 2004 would have allowed a family to deduct nearly $3,100 from its taxable income.
      Sixteen other Utah counties were listed among the top 50 counties, including Wasatch County, ranked at No. 22; Davis County at No. 36; and Cache County at No. 44. Fourth place was a tie between counties in Idaho, South Dakota and Texas.
      Pitkin County, Colo., won for the lowest exemption rate, with 1.61 claims per return.
      Such high rankings on such a list didn't surprise Kim Payne.
      "Our whole life revolves around kids," said Payne, who stays busy with three young boys, Cole, Jake and Wyatt.
      Payne thinks it's because of the state's predominant religion — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — and its focus on families.
      Payne, who grew up in Orem, said she always wanted a big family, but trouble getting pregnant has slowed the process.
      It's hard sometimes, she said, because two of her sisters have 13 children between them.
      "It's so fun to get together with all the family," she said of her nine brothers and sisters. "Kids — it's what it's all about."  

      But five children were just right for Herb and Tina Norman of Orem.
      "We were happy with four kids — (but) we wound up with five," said Tina Norman with a chuckle.
      Tina Norman also cited the LDS culture as the motivation behind having multiple children.
      "Some families really thrive on being large families — it's just the love of their children," Norman said. "I love my kids to pieces, but I love my grandkids more."
      But being a member of the LDS Church doesn't necessarily mean a huge family.
      "I have three (kids) — that's plenty for me," said Julianne Tolman of Orem. "We're not one of those typical Mormon families. I was thinking five, my husband was thinking four — we settled with three."
      Tolman was violently ill throughout her pregnancies, which greatly diminished her dreams of a larger family. She said she thinks the pregnancy experience is a large factor in determining family size.
      "It's one thing to say 'I want a huge family' until you actually carry them," she said. "If your pregnancy is a living hell, it would surprise me if (women) have more than two or three."
      Kiersten Ogles is the mother of twin 8-year-old girls and a sprightly 3-year-old. And the five-member family from Farmington is as big as it's going to get, Ogles said.
      Growing up in a family of eight was hard for Ogles, who said that so many children put a strain on finances and chances for activities.
      "I was the middle child," she said, "So I was kind of lost in all of it."
      Carrie Krueger of Lehi has two towheaded children — another child on the way. "I have this thing about even numbers, so we'll have to have a fourth," the young mom said with a laugh.
      "Maybe just because I grew up with a lot of siblings, it doesn't seem weird," she said. "It's normal."

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