Winter chills state revenue

2014-02-07T12:30:00Z 2014-02-08T12:52:06Z Winter chills state revenueDan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
February 07, 2014 12:30 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | The effects of Indiana's brutal winter, which repeatedly has trapped Hoosiers at home due to extreme cold or snow and kept them from going to work or shopping, are beginning to show up in the state's revenue results.

January state revenue totaled $1.33 billion. That's $38.3 million, or 2.8 percent below the revenue forecast, and $93 million, or 6.5 percent, less than the state took in during January 2013.

The revenue drop could get worse next month when February results are released. Chris Atkins, director of the Indiana Office of Management and Budget, said tax collections typically run about a month behind, so the full effect of the frigid winter likely won't be known until March or April.

Nearly every state revenue category failed to hit its January target, including the state's two largest revenue sources: sales taxes and personal income taxes.

January sales tax revenue totaled $645.6 million, which is $15.5 million, or 2.3 percent, less than expected. It's also just $4 million, or 0.6 percent, more than the state took in last January.

Income tax revenue last month was $591.3 million, missing the forecast by $13.2 million, or 2.2 percent. The January 2014 result was $27.6 million, or 4.5 percent, below January 2013, even with thousands more Hoosiers working this year compared to last year.

But the worst overall performer, excluding the now-eliminated inheritance tax, has been riverboat wagering revenue.

Through the first seven months of the state's budget year, taxes on casino bets have brought in only $164.6 million, versus $210.8 million during the same period last year. That's a decline of 21.9 percent.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said the state's revenue woes give him some pause in deciding whether to push ahead with plans to reduce the state's business personal property tax and corporate income tax rate.

"Revenues have been inconsistent over the last five months, so we're looking at that closely," Bosma said. "Any type of tax reform has to be judiciously reviewed and has to be prudent."

Lawmakers likely will get the February revenue results only days before voting in early March on passage of the proposed business tax cuts.

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