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Mixed messages from revenue report
Hill Jack
Sen. Jack Hill

Almost half of the overall increase in state revenues for September came from new fuel excise taxes and fees. The overall gain, up 8.7 percent, included about 4.08 percent in fuel taxes and fees leaving the net increase in state revenues for September at 4.6 percent, an increase of $83.4 million for the month.

Individual income taxes continued a strong showing, totaling a 6.6 percent increase, on revenues of a little over $1 billion. Within those totals, withholding payments were up 6.4 percent, refunds up $48.1 percent and other categories up some $28 million. Individual income taxes showed a net increase of $62.2 million for the month.

Net sales and use taxes were slightly negative at -0.3 percent. This mirrors national sales tax numbers for September, which rose only 0.1 percent including an increase in auto sales taxes. Georgia’s sales tax number does not include auto sales taxes since the tag title fee was instituted. In Georgia, the ad valorem/tag/title fee increased $11.2 million. 

Corporate income taxes ($187.1 million) were up slightly for September at 1.4 percent, only $2.5 million. Tobacco taxes were up 16.3 percent while alcoholic beverages collections were negative at -3.4 percent.

Fuel taxes show strong gains

Motor fuel excise taxes increased some $60.3 million for the month on revenues of $145.3 million. Highway impact fees totaled $689,000 and hotel/motel fees at $13.2 million for a total increase for the month of $74.3 million.

First quarter slightly less strong

Net year-to-date first quarter revenues show a strong 6.4 percent increase after discounting the new fuel tax numbers. Individual income taxes lead the way, showing an 8.7 percent increase totaling $211.6 million. Sales taxes continue to lag numbers from earlier this year showing only a 2.0 percent increase for the quarter.

Corporate income taxes are up 2.0 percent and tobacco taxes show a 5.2 percent increase along with an increase in alcoholic beverages of 2.3 percent. Ad valorem/tag/title increased $29.2 million.

Motor fuel taxes for first quarter

Motor fuel excise taxes for the first quarter really only included increases in new revenue for two months and total $124.8 million. Highway impact fees totaled $2.1 million and hotel/motel fees totaled $28.2 million for the quarter. We believe those figures represent two-thirds of a typical quarter, so they should increase next quarter.

Georgia still at the top of Southeastern stats in revenue growth

Using a 12-month trailing average, Georgia is still doing very well in revenue growth compared to other states for which we have numbers at this point (by percentage):

Georgia 6.8
(not counting fuel tax increases)
Alabama 3.8
Tennessee 8.2
Mississippi 2.4
Louisiana -4.5
Texas -0.5

Sales tax numbers tumble for everyone

You can’t help noticing that sales tax collections have slipped and were negative in September for the first time in a long time. Using a 12-month trailing average, we can spot trends easier and it appears that nationally and regionally sales tax collections are weak. Here are numbers for states we have been able to track recently:

Sales taxes only—12-month average (by percentage)

Georgia 4.1 (down from 4.6)
Alabama 3.3 (down from 3.8)
Tennessee 6.4 (up from 6.3)
Mississippi 1.8 (down from 2.2)
Louisiana 2.1 (down from 2.3)
Texas 5.1 (down from 5.6)

Georgia continues to grow and benefit from consistent revenue growth even with slowing sales tax collections. Incidentally, the state’s collections are ahead of budget by $279 million (not counting increases in fuel tax collections).

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