State tax collections through October improved but were still about 6 percent lower than a year ago, according to the Department of Taxation.
Through the first four months of the fiscal year, beginning July 1, tax receipts into the state’s general fund totaled $1.298 billion, compared to $1.377 billion during the same period last year, a 5.7 percent decline.
The decrease was caused by a 36 percent drop in personal income tax receipts and a 29 percent fall in corporate income tax receipts. Those were partially offset by a 30 percent increase in transient accommodations tax revenues and an almost 9 percent rise in general excise tax receipts, the tax department said.
Tax collections through the first quarter of the 2011 fiscal year were down 13.9 percent.
"I think revenues are in a rising trend, but it would probably help to just leave tax revenues alone for a couple years and stop monkeying with them," said Paul Brewbaker, chairman of the state Council on Revenues. "As it is, we are now heavily dependent on interpretations that we can only hope will turn out to be somewhere in the ballpark of actual outcomes."
Brewbaker was referring to the Lingle administration’s withholding of most income tax refunds until after the start of the new fiscal year — delaying the effect on the general fund — to help balance the budget.
The Tax Department said the 5.7 percent decrease in overall tax revenues reflected the delayed refunds. Otherwise, general fund receipts would have grown by 7.9 percent.
In September, the Council on Revenues forecast revenue growth of 2 percent in the current 2011 fiscal year. Brewbaker said the modest growth was expected regardless of whether the delayed tax refunds are factored in.
The Council, which sets the revenue forecast that determines how much money is available for the state government to spend, issues its next quarterly forecast in December.