Gov Jim Justice
Gov Jim Justice

State’s March revenue collections come in $3.8 million short of budget

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Jim Justice reported this week that March Revenue Collections came in shy of their projections but were still ahead of prior year receipts.

“Overall, our numbers continue to be great across the board and are far better than anything we could have even dreamed of back before I walked through the door,” Justice said. “We continue to raise the bar in West Virginia, and so we’ve had to raise our estimates, but the reality is that every month we’re doing better than we did in that month a year ago and at the end of the day I’m confident we’re going to be incredibly happy with this year as a whole.”

March collections came in at about $3.8 million under estimate, reflecting the impact of an anticipated slowdown in winter season construction activities. However, collections were still 1.6 percent ahead of prior year receipts and follow a state record $185 million surplus during the first six months of Fiscal Year 2019.

At of the end of the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2019, cumulative collections remain nearly $191.3 million ahead of original estimates for the year.

The following is a summary of March revenue collections.

General Revenue Fund

March General Revenue Fund collections of $333.0 million were $3.8 million below estimate and 1.6% above prior year receipts. These numbers reflected the impact of an anticipated slowdown in winter season construction activities.

Year-to-date collections of more than $3.29 billion were more than $23.3 million above estimate (as revised in March 2019) and 11.2% ahead of prior year receipts. The sharp rise in collections was attributable to very high rates of growth in Severance Tax, Corporation Net Income Tax, Consumer Sales Tax and Personal Income Tax collections. Year-to-date General Fund Severance Tax collections were 37% ($87.1 million) ahead of last year. Year-to-date Corporation Net Income Tax collections were 70% ($43.3 million) ahead of last year. Year-to-date General Fund Consumer Sales Tax collections were 10.9% ($98.2 million) ahead of last year. Year-to-date Personal Income Tax collections were 7.2% ($94.9 million) ahead of last year. As of the end of the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2019, cumulative collections were nearly $191.3 million ahead of original estimates for the year.

A summary of major components follows:

March Personal Income Tax collections of $123.2 million were $13.1 million below estimate and 3.7% below prior year receipts. This slight downturn in collections followed a high 20.4% rise in February collections. Cumulative collections were $10.5 million (0.7%) below the revised estimate and 7.2% ahead of prior year receipts. The decrease in monthly net revenue from the prior year was partially due to an $8.2 million increase in tax refund payments during the month following a $10.2 million decline in refund payments in the prior month. The tax year 2018 refund season got off to a slower than expected start partially due to the impact of the federal government shutdown in January. The monthly shortfall was also attributable to a $7.8 million decline in non-resident withholding tax collections from the prior year. However, wage and salary withholding tax payments of $131.3 million were a strong 8.5% above prior year receipts. Cumulative withholding tax collections of more than $1.26 billion were 11.1% above prior year receipts. Withholding tax collections previously grew by 9.1% during the final three months of FY2018.

March Consumer Sales and Use Tax collections of more than $99.9 million were nearly $2.4 million below estimate and 4.0% above prior year receipts. Collection growth slowed over the past couple months due to a seasonal drop off in outdoor construction activities. Cumulative collections were less than $0.1 million above the revised estimate and 10.9% ahead of prior year receipts. Overall collection growth, including transfers to special revenue funds, was a robust 9.4% for the year-to-date.

March General Revenue Fund Severance Tax collections of nearly $39.8 million were $7.5 million above estimate and 19.9% ahead of prior year receipts. Year-to-date General Revenue Fund severance tax collections were $7.9 million above the revised estimate and 37.3% ahead of prior year collections. Total cumulative severance tax collections for all funds were up by 33.5%. Recent strong growth in collections was partially attributable to growth in the value of foreign exports of coal. In addition, natural gas prices are trending higher than last year with greater price stability this year.

Insurance Premium Tax collections totaled $22.5 million in March, an amount that was nearly $3.1 million above estimate and 1.7% ahead of prior year receipts. Cumulative collections of $98.4 million were $6.4 million above estimate and 5.6% ahead of last year.

Tobacco Products collections totaled nearly $12.8 million in March, an amount that was $1.8 million below estimate and 11% below prior year receipts. Cumulative collections were $7.8 million below estimate and 4.9% below prior year receipts.

March Business and Occupation Tax collections of more than $8.9 million were $2.0 million above estimate. Cumulative collections of $84.5 million were $3.8 million above estimate and 6.3% ahead of prior year receipts.

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