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At $588.6M, state revenue reaches a high

Haul most ever for August; forecasts beat on all fronts by Rachel Herzog | September 5, 2021 at 12:00 a.m.

Arkansas' gross general-revenue tax collections in August exceeded the state's forecast by $52 million, or 9.7%, the Department of Finance and Administration reported Thursday morning.

Last month's total of $588.6 million also outpaced general-revenue collections for the same month last year by $23.6 million, or 4.2%, making it the highest general-revenue collection for any August on record, according to finance department tax analyst Whitney McLaughlin. The previous record was $564.9 million in August 2020.

Individual-income and sales-and-use tax collections, the two largest sources of general revenue, both exceeded the forecasts as well.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the report "continues to provide encouraging news for the state of the Arkansas economy." "The current surplus puts us in good position for meeting the priority needs of the state government & confirms more people are confident with the economy & wages are increasing," the Republican governor said on Twitter.

In July, state officials reported that Arkansas' general-revenue surplus set an official record, totaling $945.7 million for fiscal 2021. The fiscal year ended June 30.

John Shelnutt, the state's chief economic forecaster, said revenue growth remained strong in August, with key indicators reflecting both income gains from labor market rebound and sales-tax growth from robust consumer activity.

He added that sectors that experienced early recovery in the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 continued to expand, while sectors that had more disruption but recovered later, including restaurants, transportation and personal services, had higher double-digit growth rates.

"I think it shows that we have a significant rebound taking place in the sectors that were hardest hit during the pandemic," Shelnutt said. "The growth rates here are well above average for annual revenue growth. We think that will slow down some as we go through the year, but for now it's well above average." August's net general revenue increased by $33.5 million, or 6.9%, from the same month a year ago to $518.9 million, and exceeded the state's forecast by $47.1 million, or 10%.

In the first two months of fiscal 2021, July and August, individual income-tax collections dropped $178.6 million, or 26.1%, from the same period a year ago to $506.8 million. Because of the pandemic's impact on the economy, the tax filing deadline that normally would have been in fiscal 2020 was shifted to fiscal 2021.

In that same two-month period, individual collections beat the forecast by $56.3 million, or 12.5%.

"Tax due date shift accounts for the disparity against year ago levels while Individual Return payments and Payroll Withholding collections account for the gains above forecast," the department's report said.

August sales-and-use collections totaled $256.6 million , an increase of $20.2 million or 8.6% over the same month last year. That growth surpassed the monthly forecast by $14.3 million or 5.9%.

Corporate-tax collections totaled $11.2 million, which is $7.5 million higher than August 2020 and $3.2 million above the forecast.

Tobacco revenue was $2.9 million above the forecast, totaling $19.8 million.

Casino gambling revenue was $400,000 above forecast but $2 million higher than what was collected in August 2020, reflecting recovery from disruptions to operations last year, Shelnutt said.

Print Headline: At $588.6M, state revenue reaches a high

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