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Idaho's Tax Revenue Is Down 60%. What Does That Actually Mean?

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Idaho’s cash flow from tax collections is down – a lot – but state officials aren’t panicking.

The numbers from April don’t look good on their face. Tax receipts are down nearly $470 million from projections made in January.

That’s mostly because Gov. Brad Little shifted the deadline to file income taxes to June 15.

Despite last month’s revenue hit, state budget chief Alex Adams said it’s unlikely they’ll need to dip into rainy day funds to balance the budget for this fiscal year.

“Based on what we’ve seen so far, we do not anticipate that’s a lever that we will have to pull,” Adams said.

That’s due to a mix of budget cuts before the pandemic, the feds paying for a bigger share of Medicaid and possibly paying out fewer income tax refunds than projected.

“I feel very positively about our ability to close our books this fiscal year – and not just balance the budget, but have a positive ending balance based on the actions that have been taken,” Adams said.

He and state economists are hesitant to put a dollar figure on that at this time, but it could be $50 million.

Sales tax collections also took a bit of a dip in March by $4.3 million, despite a surge in sales in the latter half of the month as Idaho began to shut down over the coronavirus.

“One of the jokes I had with our economist was it does seem that it takes a lot of toilet paper and bottled water sales to make up for the loss of a sale of a single car,” Adams said.

Adams says they’ll get a better idea of how much of a hit the sales tax will take next month.

Income tax withholdings were nearly flat, though state officials say they will fall as nearly 118,000 Idahoans have filed for unemployment during the first six weeks of the pandemic.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!