West Virginia tax collections came up short in December, missing estimates of $386.76 million by $4.5 million, according to figures released by the Senate Finance Committee and the state Auditor’s Office.
December revenue collections of $382.2 million also were down $46.03 million from December 2019 collections, as personal income taxes and severance taxes fell short of expectations.
One of the two key pillars of state tax revenue, December income tax collections of $159.6 million came in $10.85 million under estimates, and were down $15.17 million from December 2019 collections.
The other key revenue source, consumer sales taxes, met expectations, exceeding estimates of $130.2 million by $182,000.
December severance tax collections on coal, oil and natural gas production came in at barely half of revenue estimates at $15.63 million. That was also down 62% from December 2019 collections of $42.95 million.
At a budget briefing in October, Gov. Jim Justice noted that severance tax collections have shrunk to a point where they are no longer a major component of the state budget.
“We’re not going to forget our miners. We’re not going to forget our gas industry, but truly, truly we’re a much more diversified economy,” he said at the time.
Despite an off month for revenue, Justice noted during Monday’s COVID-19 briefing that state tax collections are still running a surplus for the 2020-21 budget year, which passed the midway point in December.
Year-to-date revenue collections of $2.319 billion are $127.15 million above estimates, primarily thanks to a $192.5 million infusion in July, after the state income tax filing deadline was pushed back from its traditional April 15 date to July 15.
The mid-budget year revenue estimate of $2.192 billion is actually $11.2 million lower than the 2019-2020 year-to-date revenue collections of $2.203 billion through last December.
Throughout the summer and fall, Justice and Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy have downplayed the impact of the infusion of more than $3 billion of federal pandemic stimulus funds into the state economy as being a significant factor in strong state tax collections.