TribBlog: Tax Revenues Continue to Fall

Sales tax collections fell by double digits, again.

State sales tax collections for January 2010 fell by more than 14 percent compared to the same month last year, prompting the Texas comptroller of public accounts to predict further declines in the coming months.

Approximately $1.66 billion in sales tax revenue was collected last month — a 14.2 percent slide from January 2009 — due to sluggish activity in the state's retail trade, oil and gas, and manufacturing sectors, Comptroller Susan Combs said in a statement Friday. "We will continue to closely monitor sales tax revenue, and although we expect further collection declines in the near term, it is anticipated the rate of decline will moderate and then return to revenue growth sometime in the second quarter of 2010," Combs added.

The trends could likely mean that lawmakers will face the steeper end of a budget shortfall — which has been estimated between $10 billion and $17 billion — when the 82nd legislative convenes next January.

Sales tax revenues account for approximately 57 percent of the state's total tax intake, and the recent downturn has prompted state leaders to ask departments to trim their respective budgets by 5 percent during the current biennium.

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January's collection Combs sent about $418 million in sales tax to Texas cities, a 6.2-percent decline compared to February 2009. Counties in February received sales tax payments of $35.1 million, a 15-percent decline compared to February 2010, according to the statement.

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