Ohio’s July Tax Revenue Uptick a COVID-19 Anomaly

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Bruce Walker | The Center Square 

Ohio’s tax revenues in July were up, but the uptick may be, at least in part, attributable to the delayed income tax filing, according to a new memo from the state budget director.

Total general revenue fund (GRF) receipts for July were $4.1 billion, which was $270.2 million, or 7.1 percent, above officials’ estimate, Kimberly Murnieks, director of the Ohio Office of Budget and Management, said in a memo to Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.

For the month, GRF personal income tax receipts totaled $1.2 billion, which was $550.1 million, or 87.3 percent, above collections in July 2019. The higher figure is “directly attributable to the extended July 15” tax filing deadline.

“July’s outcome was singular and probably not predictive of ensuing months’ revenue performances,” Murnieks wrote.

Meanwhile, according to the memo, tax revenues were $184.6 million, or 8.2 percent, above estimate. The month’s auto sales tax revenue was $182.6 million, $48.6 million, or 36.3 percent, above the estimate and $37.4 million, 25.7 percent, higher than a year earlier.

The “unprecedented volatility caused by the pandemic appears to have resulted in the unusually large amount of revenue collected from the auto and non-auto sales taxes,” Murnieks added. “To simplify the complex interplay of influences resulting in this outcome, July likely reflected pent-up consumer demand for durable and non-durable products and the influence of federal stimulus payments, causing a temporary spike in sales tax collections.”

The positive revenue news for Ohio adds to other good news for the Buckeye State around new unemployment claims, which dropped last week by 5,963 from the prior week.

“The consensus among forecasters is that the economy will begin to recover in the third quarter of 2020,” Murnieks wrote. “Despite the rise of COVID-19 cases and the response by several states to slow or pause their reopening plans, it is highly likely that GDP will begin to expand during the next three months.

“Economic recovery, however, will be strongly linked to the course of the pandemic and may be dependent on additional federal relief packages,” Murnieks added.

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