Georgia state tax collections fell precipitously in April
Georgia's year-over-year state tax collections fell $1.03 billion in April, a reflection of the state's "shelter in place" order and closure of non-essential businesses that began on April 3 to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Gov. Brian Kemp allowed most businesses to reopen on April 24, with movie theaters and restaurants opening three days later. The "shelter in place order" for most people was lifted at the end of April, but the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are being asked to remain at home through June 12.
So far this fiscal year, net tax collections have totaled $19.23 billion, a decrease of $680 million or 3.4% less than the $19.91 billion collected in the first nine months of fiscal 2019, Kemp said.
Individual income tax collections for April declined by $732 million or 46.2% less than the taxes collected in April 2019. Individual income tax return payments decreased by $830.9 million or nearly 89% less than a year ago.
Georgia matched the federal government by delaying its income tax filing deadline to July from April.
Corporate income tax collections were $219.1 million in April compared with $310.4 million a year ago.
State sales and use tax collections were 14.3% less than a year ago, a drop of $82.4 million. Vehicle tag and title fees were down $16.3 million.
The massive revenue shortfall prompted the appropriations chairmen of the Georgia General Assembly to write the state's congressional delegation asking them to support a flexible $500 billion relief package for the states to offset lost revenues due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We are formally requesting your support for the timely approval and disbursement of these funds to close the unprecedented gap in dollars required to maintain a conservative and lean government framework of services for the state of Georgia and our constituents," wrote Terry England, R-Auburn, and Sen. Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia.
"We are experiencing an unprecedented fiscal shock as the world stands still," they said. "Three of our premier economic engines and sources of national pride are disproportionately crippled by the lack of movement."
They pointed out that the pandemic has severely affected Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, normally the world's busiest airport, the Port of Savannah, the fourth-busiest port in the U.S, and the Georgia World Congress Center, the convention center in Atlanta, where a 200-bed facility for COVID-19 patients was completed April 17.
Some 1.11 million Georgians have filed for unemployment benefits, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday.
Auburn and Tillery said they believe the pandemic's fiscal impact on the state will be an estimated $4 billion decline in revenues in the final quarter of this fiscal year, and into the next fiscal year which starts July 1.
Kemp and the Legislature have requested that all state agencies submit plans to reduce their budgets by 14%.
"We share your regard for conservative spending practices, and despite the expected reductions in force and services for our people because of these painful budget cuts, we will do our part," they wrote to Georgia's congressional delegates.
"In turn, we respectfully ask that you advocate and support the appropriation of $500 billion in flexible state stabilization funds that are proportionately distributed to help offset greater upheaval and longer recovery in Georgia," Auburn and Tillery said.