State tax collections beginning to reflect economic downturn

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

JEFFERSON CITY -- After months of state revenue increases despite a national business downturn, the most recent tax-collection report is beginning to reflect Missouri's slowing economy.

Department of Revenue officials have confirmed a decline of 11.1 percent in net general revenue last month as compared to March 2001.

This represents the largest overall decline in the state's revenue collections in nearly five years, reflecting warnings from the executive and legislative branches that lower tax receipts would make spending-as-usual impossible in Fiscal Year 2003, which begins July 1.

For the first three months ending March 31, overall collections, net of refunds, have decreased 5.7 percent, said Carol Fischer, revenue director. Refund expenditures exclude Article X or Hancock Amendment distributions.

The second largest tax-revenue source for state government -- sales and use taxes -- registered the largest loss in March, declining 10.9 percent for the month. Gains in previous months had kept this tax source from the negative column for the year-to-date total, now registering only a small 1.8 percent increase over the same period last year.

Missouri's largest single revenue source -- individual income taxes -- provided yet another confirmation of the softer post-Sept. 11 economy, registering a drop of 2.9 percent in March, again turning in the first month-by-month loss in more than four years. Earlier fiscal-year increases prior to last month kept this category ahead for the year by a narrow 1 percent. Thus far in Fiscal 2002, individual income tax payments have totaled $3.1 billion, a slight gain from the same period last year when collections totaled $3 billion.

Corporate tax up

An unusual feature this year was tax collection totals in the corporate income tax category.

Revenue from corporate income taxes in March went from $18.8 million in 2001 to $33.8 million last month -- a gain of 79.8 percent. Payments for this category are now ahead by 17.05 percent for the fiscal year.

Collections in the remaining 12 tax categories dropped 23.5 percent in March and are down 1 percent for the year.

Net general revenue tax collections in March, minus taxpayer-refund expenditures, registered $347.9 million, down from the same month in 2001 when they reached $391.6 million.

For the fiscal year-to-date, receipts totaled $4.4 billion in the current fiscal period compared to $4.3 billion in 2001. In the first three months of this year, from January through March, net general revenue reached $1.3 billion, a decrease from the same period last year when $1.4 billion was received.

It's difficult to determine if Missourians' spirits were rising last month or whether they were drowning their sorrows, but revenue from both liquor and beer taxes increased slightly more than 10 percent in each last month. Revenue from the levy on liquor was $1.3 million, up 10.4 percent over March 2001, while the beer tax levy brought in $667,000, a gain of 10.01 percent from last year.

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