The Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) released figures today on tax collections for the month of March. When adjusted for one-time factors relating to the timing of payments, the March revenue was up 24 percent compared to the same month in 2011. For the first three-fourths of the fiscal year, tax collections are up 4.2 percent compared to that portion of the previous fiscal year.
The February 9th LFB report on the state’s fiscal condition projected that a slowdown in tax collections over the second half of the 2011-12 fiscal year would lower the growth for the full fiscal year to 2.2% (compared to the 3.0% growth forecasted last May). The new numbers suggest that the state should be able to meet or exceed the revised target; however, the way the numbers have bounced around in recent months is a good reminder that there are a lot of different variables -- so non-experts (like me) should refrain from making predictions.
As we reported a few weeks ago, February 2012 was a very weak month for tax collections, which DOR attributed to a very large increase in electronic filing among people who were due refunds,thereby accelerating the refund process compared to 2011. A large increase in individual income tax collections last month appears to corroborate the DOR explanation for the weak February numbers.
Sales tax revenue also rebounded from a weak February and was up 12.3 percent ($34 million) compared to March 2011. I suspect the June-like March weather had a lot to do with that increase.