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March revenues down $1.2 million from forecast

CONCORD - State revenues were down slightly for March due to lower tobacco receipts and business tax audits, according to state officials.

In March, a large month for business taxes, the state took in $594.6 million in revenues, down slightly from a year ago, and down $1.2 million from what budget writers planned.

Tobacco taxes for the month were off $4.3 million, returning $14.6 million, while budget writers expected $18.9 million. Lawmakers lowered the tobacco tax 10 cents a pack last June, which state financial officials say is responsible for $9.2 million of the $11 million shortfall for the fiscal year to date.

Business taxes, which remain ahead of estimates for the year by $14.9 million, were below estimates for March by $3.6 million. For March, business taxes returned $80.4 million, while estimates were for $84 million.

Linda Hodgdon, Administrative Services commissioner, said revenue generated from audits was down 76 percent from last March. She said the agency attributes the lower revenue to auditing weaker financial years and to staff reductions.

Revenues were helped by the Mega Millions jackpot returning $2.4 million more than anticipated in March at $7.8 million.

'We're running on target except for the hospitals,' Hodgdon said. 'April is the next big month for business taxes.'

The Medicaid Enhancement Tax, which is collected on hospital services, is $36.5 million below estimates due to a disagreement with hospitals over what they owe.

State revenues for the year are $1.61 billion, down $30.1 million from estimates. A year ago, the state collected $1.64 billion in revenue.

Hodgdon noted, without the Medicaid Enhancement Tax, other revenues would be above estimates for the year by about $6 million

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