An unexpected 18% jump in Arkansas income tax collections boosted December available revenues to a $38 million increase from December 2011, $17.5 million above expectations. Total available collections of $465.5 million in December included $243 million from the individual income tax, the Department of Finance and Administration said last week.

Finance Director Richard Weiss said the increase came partly because December 2012 had two more paydays than December 2011. As a result of calendar quirks, he said, January collections are expected to dip.

“The economy is continuing to improve, but very slowly,” he said at a new conference.

Sales tax collections in December totaled $181 million, up $4.4 million from December 2011 but $3 million less than expected.

Gross collections, which include tax revenues that will be rebated to individual filers, totaled $518 million in December.

Net collections in fiscal 2013 total $2.4 billion, an increase of $91 million from the same period of fiscal 2012 and $22 million above the official forecast. Gross revenues are set at $2.8 billion. Year-to-date totals include $1.3 billion from the individual income tax and $1.1 billion of sales tax revenues.

The latest outlook for fiscal 2013 collections provides a $300 million state surplus when fiscal 2014 begins this summer.

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