CHARLESTON, W.Va. — April 15 was kind to the state of West Virginia. The tax collection deadline drove revenue collections for the month $53.6 million above estimates.
“How many times do you think in the state of West Virginia, in its history, do you think we’ve had a number like that in a month?” Gov. Jim Justice asked at a Thursday afternoon state capitol news conference.
Not many. Maybe never, according to state Deputy Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow. Muchow said the total taxes collected for the month, $605 million, was surely a one month record.
The state is now $77 million above estimates 10 months into the fiscal year and that’s after Justice adjusted revenue estimates upward by $146 million in January. State Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy said without that adjustment collections would be about $245 above estimates for the fiscal year.
The big four revenue producers did well in April, Hardy said.
Severance tax collections were up 34 percent, a total of $93.5 million from year ago. Corporate Net Income Tax collections jumped a whopping 73 percent from April 2018, a $63.3 million increase. Consumer Sales Tax collections were at 10.5 percent more and Personal Income Tax collections increased by 10.5 percent.
April, because taxes are due on April 15 from the previous year, is always a big month, Muchow said.
“It’s the busiest month of the year for revenues. It’s also the biggest month of the year for paper revenues,” Muchow told lawmakers earlier this week. “Most of our revenues come in electronically these days but in April we receive a lot of paper checks.”
According to Muchow, $40 million of the $53.6 million surplus came from income taxes due on April 15. The personal income tax was $25 million above estimate and the corporate income tax was $15 million above estimate.
“Very strong payments came in,” Muchow said.
Justice said the surplus is more than just a tax deadline. He said Hardy and Muchow are paid to be conservative. He said he sees something else.
“When you start talking about corporate net dollars that are up–that looks directly right into our souls, that looks right into our employment, that looks right into businesses,” Justice said.
The governor said he’s hoping for strong collections in May and June to finish the fiscal year. He said part of the surplus could be used for further repairs of secondary roads.
“We can do more. We can do more for all of us. Let’s glean some of this and put even more money toward our secondary roads,” he said.
Hardy said there hasn’t been a bad collection month this fiscal year. He said there were a few months right at the estimate and a couple of months right below but most were above. He said the change since July 1, 2017 has been quite remarkable.
“We were looking at a deficit of $497 million. April 30, 2019, we are $245 million in the black. So that’s a swing from 497 to 245 above in a period of 21 months,” Hardy said.