Total Oklahoma general fund collections declined slightly in March but the corporate income tax was a bright spot, posting an increase from March 2012 of 40% and up 50% from what was expected by state budget forecasters.

“The sharp upward climb in corporate income tax collections is extremely encouraging. Our economy is still expanding, although perhaps at a more moderate pace,” said finance secretary Preston L. Doerflinger, Gov. Mary Fallin’s chief budget official.

Corporate tax collections totaled $88 million in March, up $25 million from last year and $29 million more than projected.

“Overall, I remain optimistic that we’ll have another general revenue fund surplus at the end of the fiscal year,” Doerflinger said. “Companies are still hiring, and our unemployment continued dropping, from 5.1% to 5%, a far stronger position than most of the rest of the nation.”

March collections of $414 million were off $62 million from the official estimate, but Doerflinger said that was because income tax refunds were $34.2 million higher than in March 2012.

“Combined income tax receipts are still running 7.1% ahead of last year’s collections through the three-quarter period, and sales taxes are outpacing receipts from a year ago by 5.5%,” he said.

Wellhead prices for natural gas are up, Doerflinger said, but revenue from the state tax on oil and gas production continues to lag. Gas severance tax collections are down by 83% in the first three quarters of fiscal 2013, he said, and 76% less than expected.

“Natural gas taxes continued to drag down revenues in March. It’s likely that prolonged subpar natural gas pricing is also negatively affecting overall revenue collections, including sales taxes,” Doerflinger said.

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