PA Tax Revenues Barely Above Projections

Oct 2, 2014

State tax revenues for the first quarter of the fiscal year are up…slightly.

The Revenue Department reports that for the first three months of FY 2014-15, the state pulled in $6.6 billion— just $500,000 above expectations, or 0.007 percent. General fund collections in September totaled $2.6 billion, $11 million more than projected.  

Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell said one fiscal quarter doesn’t translate into a trend.  “Our biggest collection months of the year are ahead of us. The biggest month of the year is March followed by April, and we also experience some high collections following holiday sales," Brassell said. "So the first quarter is certainly important.  We are glad to be just an edge over estimate at this point, but it’s still really early to tell how the rest of the year will play out.”

The September numbers follow two months of revenues falling short of projections.

According to Brassell, sales tax receipts for the first quarter were $2.4 billion, 1.1 percent more than anticipated. Personal income tax collections in September are 0.2 percent lower than expected for the year to date at $2.6 billion, corporation tax revenues are $86.9 million, or 15 percent above estimates for July through September. “In establishing our estimates for the year and then breaking them down month to month, we do take a look at past collections; we take a look at economic trends; we take a look at consumer behavior; we take a look at how markets are doing," said Brassell. "So, it is a combination of looking at a history and taking into account all the other factors and doing the best we can in predicting numbers for the future.”

Revenues for the inheritance tax, realty transfer tax, as well as cigarette, malt beverage, liquor and table games taxes are all slightly below estimates for the first three months of FY 2014-15.

Brassell said the official estimate never changes, but the department will take a close look at revenues after December “and give sort of a revised economic picture, a revised revenue picture.  It’s intended to build the next budget but obviously does inform what sort of surplus or deficit we might end up with in the current year.”