LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas tax collections were up 13.5 percent above forecast in January and 12 percent above collections a year ago, the state’s chief fiscal officer said Monday.
Much of the gain was in individual income tax collections, which grew 10.1 percent compared to last year, and a decline in refunds, which Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration Director Richard Weiss attributed to income shifting into the 2012 tax year to avoid federal income tax law changes.
"We’re up strongly compared to forecast for two reasons," said Weiss. "The two main are the refunds. We did practically zero refunds this month because the feds didn’t have their systems up. We had forecast $30 million roughly that we were going to refund, so we’re $30 million up with that, which means nothing because that will all work by the end of the year."
Because of tax changes related to the federal debate over the fiscal cliff, the collection and process of tax returns electronically was delayed a month.
"Second thing, the individual estimates, the wealthy folks who are taking distributions or business folks who are taking distributions, they all bumped it back so they could get it accounted last fiscal year for taxes," Weiss said. "That’s the big story for the collections."
He said sales tax collections are "still a big concern to us, it’s below expectations" despite factoring in Christmas sales.
"I think there are still probably a lot to do with Internet sales, where some of those things are taxed and some aren’t, but there’s been an increasing reliance on that, and the general economy is still filled with a whole lot of folks that still haven’t gotten a job yet," Weiss said.
January collections totaled $516.1 million, $55.2 million above last year and $61.3 million above forecast, according to the revenue report.
State sales tax collections totaled $178.3 million in January, $1.8 million or 1.0 percent below last year, and $9.3 million or 5.0 percent below forecast.