by Max Brantley
December tax receipts were up sharply — 9.5 percent increase in gross revenues over the same month last year and 8.1 percent above forecast. The full report here makes no mention of anomalies to discount this improvement. This sounds like positive news to me:
Growth was above forecast among all major revenue categories as good growth in individual and corporate income collections coincided with slightly better than expected growth in gross receipts (sales tax). As indicators of economic conditions in the state, individual withholding was up 6.1 percent and gross receipts were up 4.0 percent compared to year ago. Estimated payments were notably high for both individual income tax and corporate income tax.
For the fiscal year, gross revenues are up 3.7 percent over the first six months and 1.7 percent above forecast.
John Shelnutt, the state's director of economic analysis, added a note of caution, however. He said the December number was driven by corporate and individual estimated tax payments, a sometimes volatile number that could be offset by refunds in the future. The retail sales growth rate of about 4 percent mirrors the national performance. He called it a moderate number, but "not great."