West Virginia Tax Collections Lag Behind January Estimates
By JOHN RABY
CHARLESTON — Weaker results in January caused West Virginia tax collections for the first seven months of the fiscal year to lag 1 percent behind original estimates, revenue officials said Wednesday.
Figures released Wednesday showed collections of $393 million for the state’s general revenue fund in January were $28.2 million, or 6.7 percent, short of estimates for the month and were 2 percent behind January 2017 collections.
Lower-than-expected corporate, consumer sales and severance tax receipts last month offset higher collections of personal income taxes. Still, actual collections through the first seven months of the fiscal year are 4.3 percent ahead of collections compared to the year-earlier period.
Deputy Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow said on a conference call that about $15 million of January’s shortfall came from the payout of corporate tax refunds.
“We had a couple of unusual refund payments that were fairly large,” Muchow said. “I view that as mostly an isolated event.”
Natural gas severance tax collections were down 42 percent for the month compared to last January and reflected lower prices for natural gas last fall. Those prices are rebounding and should result in higher tax collections in the spring, Muchow said.
Personal income tax collections of $214.6 million were nearly $7 million ahead of estimates and were more than $9 million ahead of January 2017 collections.
Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy said Gov. Jim Justice believes “the financial health of our state is good. Everything is going well,” but the natural gas revenue shortfall “is a reminder that we need to be sure that we’re managing our resources very carefully.”
Overall, revenue collections were $2.36 billion through the first seven months, compared to estimates of $2.39 billion.
“To think that we’re at 99 percent … is pretty extraordinary,” Hardy said.