Politicians want higher taxes even though revenues rise

Gov. Mary Fallin, Democrats and Republican leaders keep wanting to raise a host of state taxes even though revenues continue to rise.

Fallin called a special session and asked legislators to pass a cigarette tax increase, an energy production tax increase, a gasoline tax hike and several sales tax increases. She said the purpose of the special session was to raise taxes to make up for a projected shortfall of $212 million because the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled the previous cigarette tax hike unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, State Treasurer Ken Miller reported that rising revenues are proof that Oklahoma is having an economic recovery.

In September, revenues rose (compared to September 2016) for the sixth consecutive month.

Gross revenues for September are $1 billion, ahead of collections from last September by $72.4 million, or 7.7 percent. Gross receipts from the past 12 months, at $11.2 billion, are more than those from the prior 12 months by 2.3 percent, or just over $250 million, Miller said.

“Economic momentum in the state is going up,” Miller said. “In September, gross receipts show increased income and consumption, attributable at least in part to increased oil field activity during the past several months.”

All major revenue streams, except for motor vehicle taxes, are up over the prior year in September. The gross production tax on oil and natural gas is ahead of last September’s receipts by almost 60 percent. Gross income tax collections are up by more than 5 percent, and sales tax is higher by more than 10 percent. Motor vehicle receipts are off from last year’s receipts by 6.7 percent.

The 12-month picture shows continued, steady growth. Only corporate income tax payments are shown as lower than those from the previous 12-month period. Growth in individual income, sales, gross production and motor vehicle taxes show increases ranging from 0.5 percent to 41.8 percent.

New “revenue enhancements” passed by the Legislature and signed by Fallin are part of the reason for the rise in revenues. The tax commission attributes a total of $23.8 million in September to those law changes. The largest amount, $11.1 million, came from a new 1.25 percent state sales tax on motor vehicles. A $5 fee on motor vehicle registration increased collections by $1.5 million for the month.

Changing the 1 percent horizontal drilling gross production tax rate to 4 percent generated $6.9 million during the month. Elimination and suspension of gross production rebate payments added $3 million to gross collections.

Ending a discount for businesses that remit sales tax added $1.3 million for the month, and a new fee assessed on professional sports tickets contributed $102,473.

Since August, the law changes have yielded $40.5 million in new gross revenue.

Oklahoma’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by one-tenth of a percentage point to 4.5 percent in August, according to figures released by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. State jobless numbers improved by one-half of a percentage point over the year. The U.S. jobless rate was set at 4.4 percent for the month.

September gross revenues total $1 billion, up $72.4 million, or 7.7 percent, from September 2016.

Gross income tax collections, a combination of personal and corporate income taxes, generated $368 million, an increase of $18.6 million, or 5.3 percent, from the previous September.

Individual income tax collections for the month are $297.5 million, up by $14.1 million, or 5 percent, from the prior year.  Sales tax collections, including remittances on behalf of cities and counties, total $384.2 million in September. That is $35.8 million, or 10.3 percent, more than September 2016.

Gross revenue totals $11.2 billion from the past 12 months. That is $251.8 million, or 2.3 percent, more than collections from the previous 12 months.

Individual income tax collections total $3.6 billion, up by $16.2 million, or 0.5 percent, from the prior 12 months. Sales taxes for the period generated $4.3 billion, an increase of $81.9 million, or 1.9 percent, from the prior year.

State Revenues

September 2016 2017
Income Tax 349.4 368.0 Up 5.3%
Gross Production 31.5 50.2 Up 59.4%
Sales Tax 348.4 384.2 Up 10.3%
Motor Vehicle 64.3 60.0 Down 6.7%
Others 146.0 149.6 Up 2.5%
Total 939.6 1,012.0 Up 7.7%

(In millions of dollars)  Sales Tax includes counties and cities

Source: Oklahoma Treasury