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State tax collections drop 17.4 percent in December

(Radio Iowa) – “Significant headwinds” may be ahead for state tax collections according to the Legislative Services Agency.

State tax revenue in December, 2013 was $98 million below December of 2012. That’s a 17.4 percent drop.

“The dollar and the percent changes both represent the fourth-largest declines since at least 1994,” Jeff Robinson, a senior fiscal analyst for the Legislative Services Agency, said in a video report to legislators.

Some of that decline was anticipated. State officials have decided to deposit taxes from the state’s casinos as well as cigarette and tobacco taxes in separate accounts rather than the state’s General Fund. It means the month-to-month comparison is thrown off because those so-called “sin” taxes were counted in the bottom line last year, but not this fiscal year. But there were other troubling factors in December, including a 10 percent decline in personal income tax payments to the state as well as a $6 million drop in sales and use tax payments.

“The remainder of fiscal 2014 faces significant headwinds,” Robinson says. “…The final six months of the fiscal year promise to be full of significant revenue comparison challenges and following and analyzing the revenue stream will be particularly difficult for the remainder of 2014.”

A three-member panel that sets the official estimate of state tax revenue predicts a two-point-seven percent decline for the current 12-month fiscal year that ends June 30.