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March 04. 2012 10:26PM

State revenue for February $1.4m below expectations

CONCORD — State revenue for February is off about $1.4 million, mostly due to lower business tax collections.

The state collected $80.2 million during February, instead of the $81.6 million budget writers estimated.

Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon said the lower business taxes can be attributed to the weak economy, a significant reduction in audit staff and some of remaining staff being diverted to Medicaid Enhancement Tax issues.

Business taxes returned $8.2 million for the month, down $3.4 million from estimates.

But for the fiscal year to date, business taxes have produced $265.8 million, $29.8 million more than a year ago, and $18.5 million more than estimates.

Business tax refunds were down 29 percent this month. Hodgdon said that is good news because businesses are paying estimates closer to where they ought to be.

The tobacco tax is up nearly $1 million over estimates, producing $15.1 million for the month. This is the second month the tax has produced more than estimates, after six months of lower-than-expected revenue.

Lawmakers lowered the tax 10 cents a pack last year with the hopes of spurring growth. To date tobacco tax stamps are still about 2.4 percent below last year.

To date the tobacco tax has produced $143.9 million, down $12.5 million from a year ago, and $6.7 million less than estimates for the year.

The New Hampshire Presidential Primary is being credited with propping up the rooms and meals tax in what has been a nearly snowless winter.

The tax produced $16.2 million in January and early February, $700,000 more than estimates. For the year to date, the levy has produced $167.1, $1.5 million more than last year, and $5.4 million more than estimates.

For the year to date, the state has taken in $1.017 billion, which is $28.9 million below estimates and $34.1 million less than was collected a year ago.

Hodgdon said revenues are $10 million more than estimates for the year to date, if the Medicaid Enhancement Tax is not counted. Hospitals, in a dispute with the state, paid $41.1 million less than budget writers estimated.

Hodgdon said the state still hopes to collect the majority of that money at some point in the future.

February is one of the months that brings in the least amount of revenue for the state.


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