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Numbers looking bleak
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The Department of Revenue just released revenue figures for August, FY2009.  When compared to revenues from the previous fiscal year, the state’s revenues for August are not encouraging. 

Total collections and month to month comparisons
State revenues for August slipped by 7.0 percent under 2007 figures or $94.159 million less. Total revenues for August were $1.25 billion compared to $1.35 billion in August 2007.

The state collected approximately $638.9 million in August from individual income taxes compared to $683.9 million in August 2007. This decrease of $45 million is equal to a 6.6 percent drop in individual income tax collections.

The figures for sales and use taxes show a similar trend as individual income tax collections. Gross sales and use tax collections were $887.9 million in August FY09 compared to $901.2 million in August FY08. The drop in sales tax collections compared to the previous year is $13.3 million, a drop of only 1.5 percent.

Sales tax trends
A trend worth noting is that the amount the state distributes to local governments for their portion of sales tax collections has once again increased. In August FY09, the state distributed $422.1 million to local governments, compared to $365.8 million distributed a year ago. So, the state distributed $56.2 million more to local governments than it did last year at a time when state revenues are down and all indications are that locals should be feeling the same pain. Readers should note that this same discrepancy has appeared in the previous three months (July FY09, June and May FY08). While the monthly local sales distributions by the Department of Revenue are based on an estimate, this is curious.

Motor fuel collections
August FY09 was also a troubling month for motor fuel taxes, with both the sales and excise taxes declining sharply compared to August FY08. Motor fuel sales tax receipts were down $5.8 million while excise tax receipts were down $5.6 million compared to August FY08. These are drops of 12.6 percent in the motor fuel sales tax and 13.7 percent in the motor fuel excise tax.

Collectively, motor fuel tax collections as a whole are down 13.1 percent. Year-to-date, fuel tax collections are down 7 percent, which is an additional problem, since the state guarantees that budget level to the DOT.

Year-to-date comparisons

The year-to-date figures for FY09 paint the same picture as the month to month comparisons. Overall year-to-date revenue collections for FY09 are approximately $2.5 billion. At this same point in FY08, the state had collected approximately $2.7 billion.  So, as compared to FY08, the state has collected 6.8 percent less.

For the year to date:
• The state has collected $114.5 million less in income taxes (down 8.9 percent)
• The state has collected $88 million less in sales and use taxes (down 8.5 percent)
• The state has collected $11.6 million less in motor fuel taxes (down 7.0 percent)

Inside the sales tax categories
Sales tax numbers

The several sales tax categories give clues to the continuing weaknesses in the economy in Georgia.

Year-to-date, sales taxes are down 8.5 percent or $88 million. Food, which makes up 16.8 percent of sales taxes collected, is down -15.9 percent YTD, really significant in light of rising prices. The other categories are all negative, ranging from -14.1 percent for lumber to -3.6 percent for apparel. One bright spot is that manufacturing sales tax collections are up 0.2 percent. Utilities sales tax collections are up 18.2 percent. Distributions to local governments continue to climb, up 10 percent YTD, despite food sales taxes declining. Of course, only local governments receive sales taxes from food sales.

So, we have collected so far $2.45 billion of the $17.4 billion we need in FY09.