State revenue up 43% in Georgia for February, but there’s a catch

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday that “there is still a lot of uncertainty when it comes to state revenue through the end of this fiscal year and into the next (year).” The state reported that revenue was up 43% in February over February 2020, but that's because income tax filings were delayed a month. (Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images/TNS)
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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday that “there is still a lot of uncertainty when it comes to state revenue through the end of this fiscal year and into the next (year).” The state reported that revenue was up 43% in February over February 2020, but that's because income tax filings were delayed a month. (Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

State tax collections jumped 43% in February over the same month last year, but officials said that was largely because Georgians had to wait an extra month before they could file their income tax returns and get refunds.

Because of that decision to delay filings — a move directed by the federal Internal Revenue Service — far fewer income tax refunds were processed this February compared with February 2020. March and April will likely be catch-up months.

For February, collections rose $580 million, putting the state up $1.48 billion, or 9.5%, for fiscal 2021, which ends June 30.

That’s far different than lawmakers expected last June, when they cut $2.2 billion from the state budget over fears that a COVID-19 pandemic would cause a recession that reduced income and sales tax collections.

Those collections make up a majority of state revenue.

In February, state income tax collections were up 97%, and sales taxes 16.3%.

State lawmakers still expect a big dip in collections later this spring as Georgians file their tax returns for 2020. Specifically, they expect much larger refunds because the state withheld taxes on the bonus unemployment payments the federal government included to help those who are out of work. Much if not most of the money the state withheld for income taxes is expected to go back to those filers, officials said.

“There is still a lot of uncertainty when it comes to state revenue through the end of this fiscal year and into the next (year),” Gov. Brian Kemp said.

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