March Tax Collections Up, But Shortfall Still Looms (286)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s March revenue collections increased almost 9 percent over the same month last year, but were still short of estimates, a University of Tennessee economist said Tuesday.

 Dr. Matt Murray of UT’s Center for Business and Economic Research said the $532 million collected in March was about $44 million more than last year, but nearly $6.8 million short of projections.

 Murray said the month’s sales tax collections were up 7.7 percent, and franchise taxes rose 50 percent.

 Eleven revenue categories were below estimates for the fiscal year-to-date, including excise tax, motor vehicle registrations, sales tax and income tax, he said.

 “All in all, the state had a pretty good month when you roll it all together,” Murray said. “The sour side of the story is the fact that the state, nonetheless, ran a shortfall for the month of March.

 “That aggravates the fiscal year-to-date shortfall that has been accumulating for many months.”

 With four months remaining in the current fiscal year, the actual year-to-date growth in revenue collections has been 5.4 percent, Murray said.

 It is unlikely that revenues will reach growth estimates set for the year, even though the original projections were lowered a few months ago, Murray said.

 “With the revised projections, collections were about $4.7 million below estimates for the year,” Murray said. “If we look at the estimates that prevailed at the first of the year, we’re looking at a shortfall through March of nearly $50 million.

 “I don’t think there is going to be any way we’ll be able to close that particular gap in the next four months, and it will be difficult even in light of the revised, lower estimates to bring revenues in line.”

 — Contact: Dr. Matt Murray (423-974-5441)