CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Following a better than expected February, the state is heading into the last four months of the budget year $208 million above revenue estimates.
The state collected $321.6 million in taxes last month which was $32.4 ahead of estimates, according to state Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy.
“People are working in West Virginia and people are spending money,” Hardy said.
That’s evident from Personal Income Tax collections coming in $36.7 million above estimates while the Consumer Sales Tax topped estimates by $5.1 million.
Hardy said severance tax collections remained “sluggish.” The state collected $19.4 million for the month which was below estimates by $8.9 million. Hardy said he’s hoping for better numbers from coal and natural gas in the coming months.
“The price for natural gas is very low. Our severance tax is based on a percentage of the sales price,” Hardy said. “The volume might be there but the price of natural gas is very low now.”
Gov. Jim Justice said Monday he’s “really proud” with how his administration has handled the state’s finances during the pandemic.
“My job is always to look out for the health and safety of our people, but it is also my job to ‘mind the store’ and take care of the economics of our state,” Justice said.
Hardy said the state has been “remarkably stable” financially since late May and early June of last year.
Meanwhile, Hardy said April would be the most important month in the four months left in the fiscal year.
“April is just a huge month for us. The fact that taxpayers settle up with the state in April and the first estimates are made in April and it’s just a month that really, really can determine how we’re going to finish out the fiscal year,” Hardy said.
He said if Congress passes a new stimulus bill, as anticipated, new individual stimulus checks will help the state’s collections.
“Where you’ll see the impact is on the Consumer Sales Tax because people go out and buy things like large appliances, things they need and you’ll see that on the Consumer Sales Tax line,” Hardy said.
The Justice administration reported a revenue surplus of $44 million in July 2020 fueled by Justice’s move to push back the due date for state taxes from April 15 to July 15 because of the pandemic. The state’s financial status has also benefited from the $1.25 billion it’s received in federal CARES Act funding.