Pa. collected $5.7B in taxes in April, new state data show | Wednesday Morning Coffee

State revenues continue to grow as the June 30 budget deadline closes in

By: - May 3, 2023 7:11 am
A proposed reduction to Pennsylvania's corporate net income tax could be included in this year's state budget.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Pennsylvania collected $5.7 billion in general fund tax revenue in April, coming in $51.1 million, or a little less than 1% ahead of projections, according to newly released data.

That’s down slightly from the $6.2 billion in general fund revenue the state collected in March, which was $499.4 million, or 8.8% ahead of estimates.

And with just about two months to go before the state closes the books on the 2022-23 fiscal year on June 30, the commonwealth has so far collected $37.9 billion in general fund revenue, which is $1.2 billion, or 3.3% ahead of estimates, according to data the state Revenue Department released on Tuesday.

All this matters because how much money the state will have on hand when the current fiscal year ends on June 30 will be a major driver in the negotiations leading to the approval of the fiscal 2023-24 budget which is supposed to be in place by July 1.

“Supposed to” is the operative phrase here, since Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman, R-Indianalet it drop last month that he’s not necessarily wedded to that deadline.

“I’m hopeful that we will have a commonsense product by June 30. But I will say that, whether it’s before June 30, on June 30, or after June 30, …  our caucus … is focused on making sure it’s a responsible product for the taxpayers of this Commonwealth. And so we’re not wed to June 30,” Pittman said during an appearance before the Pennsylvania Press Club.

Below, a look at the state’s April collections by major category.

Pa. Gov. Josh Shapiro addresses the General Assembly on Tuesday, 3/7/23 (Photo by Amanda Mustard for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star).
Pa. Gov. Josh Shapiro addresses the General Assembly on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 (Photo by Amanda Mustard for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star).

Sales Tax: Sales receipts totaled $1.2 billion for April, which was $43.1 million above estimate. Year-to-date sales tax collections total $11.7 billion, which is $227.6 million, or 2%, more than anticipated.

Personal Income Tax: PIT revenue in April totaled $2.9 billion, or $322 million below estimates. That brought year-to-date PIT collections to $14.9 billion, which is $406.4 million, or 2.7%, below estimate.

Corporate Taxes: The state collected $992.1 million in corporate taxes last month, which was $261.3 million above estimate. Year-to-date corporation tax collections total $7.2 billion, which is $1.1 billion, or 18.7%, above estimates, state data showed.

Inheritance Tax: The state collected $118.7 million from the inheritance tax last month, coming in $5.5 million ahead of estimates. That brought the the year-to-date total to $1.3 billion, which is $36.4 million, or 3%, ahead of projections.

Realty Transfer Tax: Realty transfer tax collections totaled $41.9 million for April, which was $21.8 million below estimate. That brought the fiscal-year total to $528.9 million, which is $95.4 million, or 15.3% less than anticipated.

Other General Fund Revenue: Other collections, which include cigarette, malt beverage, liquor and gaming taxes, totaled $61.9 million last month, coming $18.5 million above estimate. That brought the year-to-date total to $1.4 billion, which is $12.6 million, or 0.9% above estimate.

Pa. Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman, R-Indiana, responds to Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget address during a news conference in the state Capitol on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 (Photo by Amanda Mustard for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star).

The PIT and realty transfer tax numbers above bear some additional mention, since Pittman tipped the GOP’s hand on the importance of those collections in their budget calculus.

During his Press Club appearance, Pittman sounded wary of any prospect of reducing the state’s income tax levy.

“I think we’d have to be very careful about any conversation of a potentially big reduction,” to the income tax, Pittman said, responding to a question about Shapiro’s plan to offer tax credits of up to $2,500 to newly certified teachers, nurses, and police officers, which now appears in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, a quintet of progressive Democrats in the state House have proposed tweaking the state’s flat 3.07% income tax levy so that it levels the playing field between the richest and poorest Pennsylvanians. But if that number stays flux-y, any change is likely DOA in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Now about the realty transfer tax.

Realty transfer collections also dipped in March, coming in at $50.5 million, or $11.3 million below estimates. Pittman said he’s paying particular attention to that metric since it could be the canary in the coal mine for any severe economic downturn.

“if you look at some of the details of revenues coming in, in my opinion, that is a red flashing light. And that red flashing light is the real estate transfer tax,” Pittman told his Press Club audience.

“The revenues that have come in for real estate transfer taxes have plummeted. And to me, that’s a sign of recession time to come. And so from my vantage point, we have to keep that in mind. And we have to be judicious on how we proceed with this budget,” the Senate GOP leader said.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.