State road, general fund revenues continue to surge in April; timing a big issue

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – April’s state General Fund receipts increased significantly over April 2020 receipts due to large sales tax collections and timing issues for income tax receipts, the Office of State Budget Director reported Monday.

The comparisons to April 2020 are heavily affected by the substantial declines in tax collections at the onset of the pandemic last year.

Collections rose 59.1 percent, or $506.6 million, to $1,363.6 million, compared to $857.0 million received during April 2020.

Consumption-related receipts last year were greatly reduced because of the COVID-19 mitigation actions taken to prevent infections while income taxes were delayed due to the extension of the filing deadlines.

Receipts have grown 10.8 percent for the first 10 months of FY21.

The enacted budget calls for revenue growth of 1.2 percent for the current fiscal year.  A significant revenue surplus for FY21 is expected since revenues are now estimated to grow by 6.3 percent.

The Office of State Budget Director recently released an interim revenue estimate that forecasts a revenue surplus of $586.4 million for FY21.

Road Fund receipts for April totaled $162.6 million, an all-time monthly high amount, eclipsing the $145.6 million in collections from March of 2019. Revenues grew 59.9 percent increase over April 2020 levels.  Year-to-date receipts for FY21 have grown 5.5 percent.

State Budget Director John Hicks was pleased with the broad-based gains in all major accounts in the General Fund, especially the sales tax and withholding collections. “The income taxes grew by large amounts, primarily due to the low base of comparison with April 2020 when the filing deadlines for final returns and declaration payments were extended until July 15, 2020.

Compared to April 2019, both the individual income tax and the business taxes receipts were lower despite the robust growth in withholding in April 2021.  Sales taxes, however, surpassed all-time records for monthly collections.

Sales and use tax collections were $486.5 million, $37 million more than the previous record set in January 2021.

Strong receipts in consumption taxes can be partially attributable to Federal stimulus payments, pent up demand, and poor weather in February.

Broadly speaking, the robust revenue performance in April is consistent with the strong fourth-quarter growth that was projected in the recent unofficial revenue estimates released on April 30, 2021.

Among the major accounts:

  • Sales and use tax receipts reached an all-time monthly high of $486.5 million. Year-to-date collections have grown 9.5 percent.
  • Corporation income and Limited Liability Entity tax (LLET) receipts rose $138.6 million, or 266.0 percent in April and have increased 57.7 percent year-to-date. The large percentage growth in April stems from the fact that corporation filing deadlines for tax year 2020 were not pushed back to May like the individual returns, so the net returns category of the corporation income tax and the LLET grew by a combined $94.7 million.
  • Individual income tax collections grew 48.0 percent, or $173.6 million in April as all components of the tax saw significant increases. While there are substantial timing differences due to the extension of the income tax filing deadlines last year and this year, withholding continued a strong performance by growing 17.6 percent over last April and 5.3 percent year-to-date. Through 10 months, individual income tax receipts have increased 9.1 percent.
  • Property tax collections grew 78.1 percent, or $13.5 million for the month. Receipts are up 6.9 percent year-to-date.
  • Cigarette tax receipts increased 26.7 percent in April but have fallen 0.9 percent year-to-date.
  • Coal severance tax receipts rose 9.3 percent to $4.5 million but are down 10.5 percent year-to-date.

Like the General Fund, Road Fund receipts saw a significant increase in April.  April’s collections of $162.6 million was an all-time monthly high, $60.9 million more than collected last April.  Year-to-date collections have grown by 5.5 percent.  The April usage tax collections on motor vehicle sales were $64.7 million compared to $19.8 million last April, which experienced a 60 percent decline due to COVID-19.

The $64.7 million is an all-time monthly high and reflects a 13 percent increase over March 2021 collections. Year-to-date, motor vehicle usage tax receipts are up 20.5 percent over last year. Motor fuels tax receipts broke a series of 13 consecutive months of declines over the prior year with a 14.7 percent increase over last April and a 17.6 percent increase over the prior month.

The official Road Fund revenue estimate call for revenues to increase 5.8 percent for the fiscal year.  Based on year-to-date tax collections, revenues must increase 7.4 percent for the remainder of the year to meet the estimate.  The recently released interim revenue estimate calls for Road Fund revenues to increase 6.6 percent in FY21 which would result in a budget surplus of $12.1 million.

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