State's Income Tax Surplus Inflated by Slower Refunds


Cautious optimism greeted Idaho's recently released report card on its financial strength. The Idaho Division of Financial Management revealed Wednesday that tax revenue through the first eight months of the 2012 fiscal year is nearly $33 million ahead of forecast. February receipts topped forecasts by $19.5 million - the largest surplus of the fiscal year.

As of February, Idaho had collected $1.64 billion, ahead of the $1.5 billion the state took in during the same period a year ago.

Not all revenue categories exceeded their targets, however. Sales tax revenue came in $2.5 million below the forecast.

Drilling into the data reveals that income tax collections were positively affected by an unusually low number of tax refunds - $12.7 million lower than expected.

"This month's low refunds are a timing issue," read the report. "Continuing verification and review improvements by the Idaho Tax Commission result in returns processing slightly later than in the past."

Simply put, tax collectors are taking their time in issuing refunds, thus delaying the output and causing refunds to be lower than expected in the early months of tax filing season.

"As a result, the current individual income tax surplus that is inflated by low refunds should deflate in coming months," said the report.