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Issue: 1220 Date: 1/9/2014
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Shoppers Fuel Huge Increase In Missouri's Sales Tax Collections

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        Missourians flocked to the stores in December, causing a huge increase in the state's sales tax collections that, in turn, has helped fatten the state government's coffers more than expected.

        State Budget Director Linda Luebbering on Thursday January 2, 2014 credited a rosier public mood - which apparently led to more holiday shopping - for a 25.9 percent increase in Missouri's sales tax collections in December, compared to December 2012.

        The contrast is even more striking because December 2012 saw sales tax collections drop 1.4 percent, compared to December 2011.

        Overall, including all income categories, this December saw state general revenue increase by 5.1 percent compared to a year ago, according to the latest state revenue numbers made public Thursday.

        The improved December numbers, in turn, helped boost Missouri's general revenue collections for the current fiscal year by 2.8 percent.

        That 2.8 percent increase is closer to the original 3.1 percent projected increase for the current fiscal year, which began July 1, and well above the revised 2 percent growth estimate that Republican legislative leaders released just a couple weeks ago.

        That lower revision came after several months of lower-than-expected state revenue collections.

        "I think we're continuing to see some improvement here," Luebbering said in a telephone interview. "December was without a doubt, a good solid month for us."

        But she declined to go so far as to predict that December's improved numbers might signal an economic turnaround. "We will roll out our new numbers for the current year in the governor's budget,'' which will be released in several weeks, Luebbering said.

        Governor, legislative leaders still disagree on projected growth in state budget

        Gov. Jay Nixon and his economic team remain at odds with Missouri's Republican legislative leaders regarding the revised budget predictions for the current fiscal year and for the coming 2015 fiscal year which begins July 1. Those predictions are key in putting together a state budget, the chief task of the GOP-controlled Missouri General Assembly when it reconvenes next week.

        The state House and Senate released, a couple weeks ago, their projections of 2 percent growth for the current fiscal year and 4.8 percent for FY2015. Republican legislative leaders accused Nixon of pressing for more optimistic predictions - which they said were unrealistic -- to allocate more money in the state budget.

        Luebbering said that the disagreement remains, but declined to be specific about the governor's projections. Those details will be unveiled in Nixon's annual State of the State address, expected to be delivered later this month.

        The December revenue numbers also saw an increase in state income-tax collections of 3.8 percent for individuals and 3.2 percent for corporations.

        The only notable bad news in December was an increase in state tax refunds of more than 100 percent, compared to a year ago.

        "We had a rather large, singular refund payment of almost $20 million,'' Luebbering said. The refund was in previously paid sales taxes. She declined to identify the beneficiary of the refund.

        Without that refund, December's income numbers would have been even better.

        Here's the month's breakdown, as reported by Missouri's Office of Administration:

        GROSS COLLECTIONS BY TAX TYPE

        Individual income tax collections

        Increased 2.8 percent for the year, from $2.63 billion last year to $2.71 billion this year. Increased 3.6 percent for the month.

        Sales and use tax collections

        Increased 6.4 percent for the year from $920.9 million last year to $979.6 million this year. Increased 25.9 percent for the month.

        Corporate income and corporate franchise tax collections

        Increased 21.5 percent for the year, from $214.5 million last year to $260.6 million this year. Increased 3.2 percent for the month.

        All other collections

        Decreased 20.7 percent for the year, from $236.0 million last year to $187.1 million this year. Increased 36.2 percent for the month.

        Refunds

        Increased 10.6 percent for the year, from $240.7 million last year to $266.2 million this year. Increased 106.8 percent for the month.

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