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Georgia tax revenues down for second straight month

By Dave Williams

Capitol Beat News Service

ATLANTA – Georgia tax collections rebounded somewhat last month from a dismal showing in April but still were down significantly compared to May of last year.

With the economic lockdown forced by the coronavirus pandemic remaining partly in effect, the state Department of Revenue brought in $1.58 billion in May, down 10.1% from the same month a year ago.

In contrast, Georgia tax revenues dropped by nearly 36% in April, a huge drop revenue officials attributed to a decision to postpone tax payment deadlines from April 15 until July 15.

Individual income tax receipts fell by 3.4% last month, largely driven by a large decrease in tax payments – which declined by 38% compared to May 2019 – due to the extended payment deadline.

Net sales taxes showed a much steeper decline, falling by 11.5% in May, while typically more volatile corporate income tax collections were down 40.8%, primarily due to a huge drop-off in corporate income tax return payments of 90.4%.

Monday’s report from the revenue agency was the last state tax receipts information Georgia lawmakers will get before the General Assembly resumes the 2020 legislative session next week. The session was suspended in mid-March due to the pandemic with 11 legislative days remaining on the calendar.

The top order of business will be cutting spending by state agencies by 11% across the board, only a slightly less daunting challenge than the 14% reductions Gov. Brian Kemp had ordered before receiving a more positive revenue forecast last week.

The legislature faces a tight deadline, with fiscal 2021 set to begin July 1.