Nebraska April Net Tax Receipts Down 45.9%, $292-M

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Nebraska’s net general fund tax receipts for April totaled $345 million dollars, $292 million or 45.9% below projections, as the coronavirus pandemic made itself felt but in a somewhat indirect manner.

Sales tax receipts came in just a million dollars or half-a-percent under expectations and miscellaneous taxes were $9.1-million or 21% above projections, showing little effect from retail operations including restaurants and bars, shutting down.

Individual income taxes, on the other hand, were off $261.2.-million or 71.3% while corporate income taxes came in $38.7-million or 52.4% lower than expected. Neither drop reflected the loss or jobs or paychecks, though – they reflected the income tax filing date being moved to July 15th.

Even with the $292-million dollar hit in April, Nebraska’s net tax revenue for the fiscal year is still almost exactly on projections with a surplus of $4-million dollars. The fiscal year ends June 30th

Governor Pete Ricketts sees the fact that sales tax revenue remained strong year over year as encouraging, and says he’ll continue to monitor the impact of the pandemic on state revenues in the coming months.

The heads of Nebraska’s two best-known think tanks both say the real impact on the state budget will come in the new fiscal year

Renee Fry, executive director of the liberal-leaning OpenSky Policy Institute, says the impact of the coronavirus limits on sales taxes will become more apparent in the coming months while the impact on employment and earnings will hit hardest when income taxes are finally filed in July.

Fry says “the bottom line is we’re probably in for a bumpy ride for the current biennium and going forward. Nebraska would benefit greatly from rapid and transparent mobilization of federal Coronavirus Relief Funds to help lessen the virus’ impact on our residents and our economy.”

Sarah Curry, policy director of the conservative-leaning Platte Institute, says core government services for the current fiscal year are probably ok since the state had a solid Cash Reserve Fund, but the state needs to cut any spending that is not absolutely necessary.

Curry thinks more money needs to be set aside in case there is a second wave of COVID-19 that requires additional health measures. She also says lawmakers need to reassess the state tax code in conjunction with an in-depth analysis of the pandemic’s impact tax collections in other states.

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