OLS projects ‘big three’ tax revenue collections will exceed administration’s projections by $100M

TRENTON – The Office of Legislative Services has updated revenue projections for the state’s three largest revenue sources, estimating for fiscal year 2011 that collections for these three areas will exceed the administration’s estimates by $100 million. The OLS said in a letter it sent to budget committee members that the picture for the three areas has become clearer in the last week, and that the state accounting system indicates the following:

For sales taxes, the OLS letter reported to the committee members that the state accounting system projects collections of $7.755 billion, $92 million below the administration’s estimate of $7.847 billion.

For the corporate business tax, collections of $2.222 billion, $115 million more than the administration’s expectations of $2.107 billion.

And for the gross income tax, $10.624 billion, $88 million above the administration’s expectations of $10.536 billion.

The issue of whose revenue projections to follow became a matter of controversy during budget-making season, when the administration said the lower, more prudent Treasury projections were the ones that must be followed, while some lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled Legislature wanted to rely on the OLS figures.

According to the OLS, the gross income tax amount was reduced by what it called “an extraordinary one-time transfer” of $33 million to the Unclaimed Personal Property Trust Fund to account for uncashed tax refunds over the last decade.

Without that, OLS said, actual gross income tax received would be $121 million above the administration’s targets.

OLS budget director David Rosen pointed out in a letter to Senate and Assembly budget committee members that the figures could still be subject to change and that the auditor won’t complete its review for several months.

“As you may recall,’’ he said in the letter, “Senate Bill No. 4000,” (the budget passed by the Legislature), “assumed as part of its opening balance FY2011 tax revenues $112 million higher than the Executive estimate.”

In response to the OLS letter, Treasury spokesman Andy Pratt said, “Treasury will not comment on every fluctuation or restatement of the OLS estimates of what money is going to be available for fiscal 2012.

“As this OLS analysis indicates, legislative estimates are preliminary and subject to change.’’

OLS projects ‘big three’ tax revenue collections will exceed administration’s projections by $100M