Arkansas starts fiscal year below forecast

LITTLE ROCK — Sluggish corporate income and sales tax collections pushed Arkansas' revenue below forecast and below the same month in 2013 as it started its fiscal year in July, state finance officials said Monday.

The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration said the state's net available revenue in July totaled $403.1 million, which was $7.1 million below the same month last year and $9.8 million lower than expected. The state's fiscal year began July 1.

DFA Director Richard Weiss said he didn't believe the figures were a cause for concern yet, since the state's fiscal year just began.

"In the big picture, it really doesn't tell us a whole lot," Weiss told reporters.

The state's corporate income tax collections totaled $18.4 million, which is $8.5 million lower than July 2013 and $9.7 million below forecast. Sales tax collections totaled $185.5 million, which is $500,000 lower than the same month last year and $7.6 million below forecast.

Weiss said the dip in corporate income tax collections was due to a timing issue of when corporations were filing their taxes, and said the drop in sales tax collections couldn't be pinpointed to one specific area.

Weiss said he was encouraged by the state's individual income tax collections and a slight increase in individual withholding. Individual income tax collections totaled $213.2 million, which is $7.3 million above last year and $200,000 above forecast.

"That's the best of all economic signs," Weiss said. "We feel very comfortable about the forecast."

State officials last month announced Arkansas ended the fiscal year with a nearly$79 million budget surplus, and would have nearly $180 million in one-time funds available for the Legislature to use for various one-time projects when they meet next year. Surpluses are not uncommon in Arkansas which is barred by law from running a deficit.

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