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March tax revenue continues trend of surplus collections

CHARLESTON — With just three months left in the current fiscal year, March tax collections continued a trend of monthly tax collections coming in above estimates.

According to a report released Thursday by the Senate Finance Committee, March tax revenues for the general revenue fund came in at $375.7 million, 7.9 percent above the $348.3 million estimate from the West Virginia Department of Revenue. March revenues came in $27.4 million more than the estimate.

Year-to-date tax collections for fiscal year 2021 of $3.5 billion was 7.3 percent more than the estimated collections of $3.2 billion, giving the state a surplus for the first two-thirds of the fiscal year of $235.4 million. Fiscal year 2021 ends on June 30.

“As of the end of March, the state has collected 76 percent of its total estimated yearly revenue,” the report stated. “At this time, the state should have collected 71 percent of its yearly revenue. This current trend puts the state on track for meeting yearly revenue estimates.”

All of the major drivers of tax collections came in above estimates, including the state’s severance tax on oil and natural gas which benefits from cooler temperatures going into March.

Personal income tax revenue for March came in at $136.3 million, a 0.22 percent increase from the $136 million estimate. The slight surplus for the month comes two weeks after Gov. Jim Justice moved the tax filing deadline in the state from April 15 to May 17 to match a similar move by the IRS.

Year-to-date collection of personal income tax revenue of $1.578 billion was 5.9 percent more than the $1.490 billion estimate. That leaves the personal income tax with a $88.4 million surplus. The corporate net income tax brought in $8.8 million in March, which was 75 percent more than the $5 million estimate. Year-to-date collections of $179.5 million leave the corporate net income tax with a $80.5 million surplus.

The consumer sales and use tax brought in $114.1 million for March, which was 9.2 percent more than the $104.5 million estimate. March collections also exceed collections for last March by 11.6 percent. Year-to-date collections of $1.083 billion was 3.7 percent more than the $1.045 billion estimate. The sales tax has a $38.7 million surplus.

March is also the fourth time this fiscal year that the severance tax came in above estimate. March collections were $47.2 million, which was 42.9 percent more than the $33 million estimate, giving March severance tax collections a $14.2 million surplus for the month. Year-to-date collections of $158.6 million were only 1 percent below estimates.

Tax collections are on the minds of lawmakers and the Governor as they prepare the fiscal year 2022 budget that goes into effect on July 1, as well as multiple plans to possibly cut and phase out the personal income tax.

House Bill 2022, the budget bill, is on third reading in the House of Delegates today, where lawmakers will consider amendments and pass the bill to the state Senate, where members will likely amend their version of the budget — Senate Bill 125 — into HB 2200. House Bill 3300, the vehicle being used to move a personal income tax cut as well as tax increases to offset the cut, is on first reading in the Senate today.

The personal income tax makes up more than 43 percent of the state’s general revenue budget.

Steven Allen Adams can be reached at sadams@newsandsentinel.com

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