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Idaho Leads The Nation In Tax Revenue Growth

Gov. Brad Little during a press conference in 2020.

Idaho’s economic recovery during the coronavirus pandemic lead the nation in terms of tax collections.

The pandemic hobbled state budgets as businesses across the country halted during the initial stages of lockdowns.

But a new analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows Idaho was the first state to see tax revenues return to pre-pandemic levels in just four months.

“Not only have they returned to pre-pandemic levels, revenue’s been coming in faster than we expected prior to the pandemic,” said Alex Adams, director of the state division of financial management.

From March of 2020 through February 2021, Idaho tax collections grew by 11% – the fastest in the country, according to Pew.

Utah, Colorado and South Carolina also saw revenues increase over the pandemic, according to Pew. Alaska, Hawaii and North Dakota took the biggest losses.

Gov. Brad Little reopened businesses soon after April’s lockdown – something Adams said helped drive up personal and corporate income taxes.

He also reigned in state spending initially to weather any potential economic hit.

Three rounds of federal stimulus checks spurred growth in sales tax collection, though Idaho saw tourism to state parks and other outdoor recreation areas boom over the past year.

People also kept moving to the state during the pandemic.

“As businesses in particular became comfortable with remote work, Idaho became a pretty attractive location for remote working,” Adams said.

Some relocated from places with strict lockdowns to Idaho’s mostly restriction-free towns and cities.

The state also experienced one of the country’s highest COVID-19 case rates per-capita.

From March 2020 through Feb. 2021, Idaho recorded 138,823 confirmed cases of COVID-19, another 32,317 probable cases and 1,901 deaths.

State lawmakers this year used the significant increase in tax revenues to fund a $382.9 million tax cut and rebate plan, boost transportation funding and add to Idaho’s rainy day funds.

Adams said Idaho should still see a $100 million budget surplus when the current fiscal year ends in June.

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!