March Revenue Collections Total $1.953 Billion
(Boston - Thursday, April 3, 2014) – Department of Revenue Commissioner Amy Pitter today announced that preliminary revenue collections for March totaled $1.953 billion, up $69 million or 3.6 percent above revenues collected last March. Better than expected income tax withholding, income tax payments with returns and extensions, and sales taxes were more than offset by weak corporate and business tax collections to end the month $60 million below the monthly benchmark based on the revised fiscal year 2014 revenue estimate of $23.2 billion.
Revenue collections for the fiscal year, that began last July, totaled $16.483 billion, up $1.204 billion or 7.9 percent more than a year ago and $228 million above the year-to-date revised benchmark.
“Income tax withholding performance continues to be strong, with the March increase largely driven by bonus-related income payments, as was the case in February. However, the withholding collections were more than offset by weakness in corporate and business tax collections,” Commissioner Pitter said. “Because corporate and business revenues tend to be volatile and impacted by many factors not easily identified, we need to be cautious, at least until June when the second quarterly payments are remitted, about making general assumptions based on March results.”
March is the largest collection month of the year for corporate and business payments because tax returns and extensions for the previous year are due as well as the first quarterly estimated payments for the new tax year.
Corporate and business tax collections of $654 million for the month were $58 million or 8.2 percent lower than a year ago and $114 million below benchmark. The weak performance of corporate and business tax collections may be due to taxpayers claiming more carryover losses or more credits on their returns, and adjusting down their taxable income expectations for the current year. Year-to-date collections total $1.907 billion, up $256 million or 15.5 percent over the same period last year and $145 million above the year-to-date benchmark.
Income tax withholding totaled $999 million for March, $104 million or 11.6 percent more than a year ago and $67 million above the monthly benchmark. This is partially due to bonus-related income payments, which also had an impact on February’s revenues. About $14 million of the March withholding surplus may be due to the shifting of some payments from April to March. Year-to-date withholding is up 5.62 percent and is $121 million above the year-to-date benchmark.
Income tax cash refunds totaled $334 million, up $27 million from March of 2013 and $25 million above the monthly benchmark. Filing season continues with the number of refunds processed in March up 5.4 percent from a year ago; however, the cumulative number of refunds since the beginning of January is down by 2.4 percent. How refunds perform relative to benchmark in a single month is not particularly significant; the number processed over the course of the entire filing season will be more meaningful.
Sales tax collections for March totaled $404 million, up $35 million or 9.6 percent from the same period a year ago and $11 million above March benchmark. Year-to-date collections are up $240 million or 6.3 percent from the same period last year but $9 million less than the year-to-date benchmark.