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PA Tax Collections Down for 3rd Straight Month

Pennsylvania’s coffers continue to be not as full as state officials anticipated. For a third straight month, revenue collections were lower than expected. 

According to the Department of Revenue, Pennsylvania pulled in $1.6 billion in funds in February which was 2.1 percent below projections. For the first eight months of the fiscal year, total revenues are 0.5 percent less than estimates.

“We do keep an eye on any developing trends that we can identify,” Revenue Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell said. “We don’t think there are really are any significant trends that we can identify so far.  We are wondering what impact the weather had on sales tax collections and we anticipate that could continue into next month’s collections.”

Sales tax revenues have been off for three straight months including the holiday shopping season and are 1.1 percent below estimates for the fiscal year.

“As far as fiscal year in total, it’s too early to tell," Brassell said. "We have our two biggest collection months ahead of us in March and April.  So we’re keeping eye on things, don’t know if there are any real trends outside of some bad weather in January and February."

Even though Personal Income Tax (PIT) collections were down for a third consecutive month in February and are $101 million lower than expected for the fiscal year, she says that’s not necessarily a reflection on the employment picture.

“(April) is really the key month for PIT,” Brassell said. “The numbers that are reflected on an ongoing basis are employer withholding, quarterly payments, but at 1.4 percent under estimate for the year, we’re not identifying any significant trends and we’ll wait for what April brings in.”

The most positive note comes from business according to Brassell. Corporation tax collections are 5.7 percent above projections since July. 

“Corporation tax revenue is continuing to be pretty strong for us," she said. "We’re hoping that pattern remains coming into March.  March is the biggest month for corporation tax collections. So the two bright spots for February collections were the corporation tax revenue and the non-tax revenue which both came in over estimate.”

Non-tax revenue includes liquor store profits, licenses, fees and fines.

Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago. kgavin@wesa.fm