Corporate income tax collections continued their increase in March, but an unusual amount of income tax refunds caused overall Oklahoma tax revenues to come in less than a year ago, state finance officials said Tuesday.
“The sharp upward climb in corporate income tax collections is extremely encouraging,” Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger said. “Our economy is still expanding, although perhaps at a more moderate pace.”
Collections to the general revenue fund, the state's main operating fund, totaled $413.9 million in March, which is $20.6 million, or 4.7 percent below collections for the same month a year ago.
An analysis by the Oklahoma Tax Commission shows taxpayer refunds in March were $34.2 million more than a year ago, according to the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services. Tax Commission officials said thousands of Oklahoma taxpayers filed for refunds later than usual this year because the Internal Revenue Service delayed the tax filing season before a deal was struck on federal cuts in January.
Tax Commission officials project the refund season is essentially over, according to the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. The state is likely to return to a more normal pattern of personal income tax collections for the final three months of this fiscal year, which ends June 30.
Doerflinger, who also is director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, said combined income tax receipts so far this fiscal year are 7.1 percent ahead of last year's collections. Sales taxes are outpacing receipts from a year ago by 5.5 percent, he said.
While natural gas prices have improved recently, natural gas receipts are still running behind last year's collections so far this fiscal year, he said. Oil receipts also have dropped substantially compared with last year.
“Natural gas taxes continued to drag down revenues in March,” Doerflinger said. “It's likely that prolonged subpar natural gas pricing is also negatively affecting overall revenue collections, including sales taxes.”