DES MOINES — Iowa’s economy had a better month in November than the 1.8 percent growth in state tax receipts might indicate, a Legislative Services Agency tax analyst said Monday.
Last month’s state tax collections were $11.3 million higher than November 2012, but there were several factors at play that skewed the numbers, said Jeff Robinson, who compiles the agency's monthly revenue report.
For instance, personal income tax collections were up 11.3 percent for November while sales and use tax receipts topped last fiscal year’s comparable monthly period by 6.2 percent. Robinson said there likely were timing issues that affected the numbers, but he noted both categories have year-to-date growth rates of 4.5 percent for the first five months of the current fiscal year.
“That’s really pretty good,” he said.
“Two months ago, I was concerned that the things that matter were trending the wrong way,” Robinson said in assessing the top two state tax collection categories of personal income and sales/use taxes. “Now, it’s not looking like it’s trending the wrong way. It’s looking decent in our main drivers. This is better news than the numbers look.”
A law change eliminating the deposit of state racing and gaming tax receipts into the general fund accounted for a decrease of $25.3 million from the bottom line. Also, November tax refunds totaled $38 million, which shaved the monthly growth to 1.8 percent and year-to-date growth to 1.9 percent.
For the year, the Iowa Revenue Estimating Conference projects that total state receipts this fiscal year through next June 30 will fall 1.2 percent short of fiscal 2013’s $6.652 billion in tax collections. The expected decline can be attributed to law changes made last session that divert more funds to earmarked purposes with legislators shifting $178 million in tobacco settlement and gambling profits that will skew year-to-year comparisons.