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Mississippi tax collections decline at start of budget year

Mississippi tax collections were slightly worse during the first three months of the current budget year than they were the same time last year, an expert told lawmakers Wednesday.

This appears to contradict earlier reports from the Legislative Budget Office and the Department of Revenue, which showed tax collections were 3.5 percent higher this July through September than they were a year ago.

State economist Darrin Webb told members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee that collections were actually six-tenths of 1 percent lower.

Webb said the Department of Revenue numbers for the first three months of this budget year are “inflated” because they included cash from unclaimed property and money from a tax refund account. He also said collections from insurance premiums were listed in the first quarter of this year, but should have been counted in June, when the last budget year was ending.

Tax collection numbers from July through September last year artificially appeared $20 million lower than they were because of “various anomalies,” Webb said. He said that also added to the false impression that the state collected more money during the first quarter of this year than during the first quarter of last year.

The economist spoke to top lawmakers as they were meeting to adopt an estimate of how much money the state will have available to spend in the coming year, which begins next July 1.

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