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State Tax Collections Up

October 21st, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

State tax collections are up for the second month in a row. Collections for September topped estimates by almost a hundred million dollars with bright spots in sales taxes and corporate income taxes. But, as Mike Vasilinda tells us, it is still too soon to say the economy is recovering.

State tax collections from auto sales were up in September, due in part to Cash for Clunkers. Collections from contruction were also above estimates. Corporate income taxes jumped by more than 41 million dollars. And even the documentary stamp tax over-acheived. Economists are happy, but…

“It’s good news for the state; it’s money we can spend,” state economist Amy Baker said. “But it doesn’t necessarily mean you can translate that into raising the estimates yet.”

The September collections were a mirror of August, putting state revenues about 200 million above estimates that are used to calculate budgets.

The state’s cheif economist is cautiously optimistic, but cautions that two months is not yet a trend.

The down side is that sales taxes in September were still 200 million dollars below a year ago. That’s causing some key lawmakers to be cautious.

“Certainly we still have high unemployment,” Rep. Will Weatherford (R-Pasco County). “There are still a lot of challenges we face in Florida. But our hopes are that we are starting to see the encouraging signs of revenues coming back.”

While the signs are good, economists are reluctant to say the state has hit bottom and is recovering…yet.

“I want to see in October, when we didn’t have Cash for Clunkers, that it’s still up,” Baker said. “That would be very encouraging.”

And for Florida retailers, and the state as well, what happens over the Christmas holidays will be a key indicator the worst is over.

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