Kansas tax collections $8.5M above new, higher estimates in November

The state of Kansas collected $8.5 million more in tax receipts in November than budget officials had forecast, the Department of Revenue said Friday.

November’s tax collections of $463.5 million exceeded expectations by 1.9 percent, even after the department raised its official estimates earlier in the month. Officials said that is an indication that the Kansas economy is showing signs of strength.

“Sales tax receipts have reached what appears to be stable growth above last year’s collections,” Revenue Secretary Sam Williams said in a statement about the report.

Individual income tax collections also came in higher than expected, and significantly higher than the same month a year ago. However, Williams said it is still too early to say how much of that is due to the economy, and how much is due to the tax policy changes that Kansas lawmakers enacted this year over Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto.

Since the fiscal year began July 1, the state has collected just under $2.5 billion in various taxes, which is about $259 million more than it collected over the same period last year.

The majority of that increase is from individual income taxes, which are up nearly $177 million. But retail sales taxes, a revenue stream that lawmakers didn’t alter this year, are up $41.6 million, or 4.4 percent over the same period last year.

At this time last year, monthly revenue reports consistently came in short of projections, forcing Brownback to order steep spending cuts, especially in higher education and highway funding.

Lawmakers spent much of the lengthy 2017 legislative session debating tax policy, and in the end voted to reverse course on many of the controversial income tax cuts that Brownback had championed in 2012.

That included reinstating a third, upper-income tax bracket and reimposing taxes on nonwage business income from farms, partnerships, LLCs and other kinds of self-employment. Overall, however, income tax rates are still lower than they were before the 2012 tax cuts.

Friday’s revenue report, however, seemed to indicate that those tax increases have not damaged the economy or stifled economic growth, as some had predicted.

In addition to the growth in sales taxes, the state has also seen a 39 percent, or $30.5 million, increase in corporate income taxes, another area of the tax code lawmakers didn’t change.

One negative spot continues to be taxes on mineral extraction, known as severance taxes. Those have come in $1.6 million, or nearly 10 percent, below last year’s level, reflecting continuing sluggishness in the oil and gas industry.