SAN FRANCISCO — California should be able to handle the potential loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in projected tax revenue from a depressed Facebook stock price, according to Moody's Investors Service.
"A loss of hundreds of millions in revenue would equal less than 1% of the state's $91 billion budget," Moody's analyst Emily Raimes said in a report Monday. "Given that California has faced mid-year budget gaps of tens of billions of dollars in recent years, we expect a gap of this size opening in the middle of the year to be manageable for the state."
California's Legislative Analyst's Office said in a report last week that hundreds of million of state tax revenue is at risk if Facebook's share price continues to remain well below its $38 initial public offering price. It opened Monday at $21.39 Gov. Jerry Brown's administration assumed a share price of $35 for the IPO and in November when big blocks of shares are expected to be unlocked for trading.
The state's fiscal 2013 budget targeted $1.9 billion of revenue during 2012 and 2013 tied to Facebook's IPO, $400 million of which assumes a temporary income-tax increase is approved by California voters in November.
"If the weakness in the stock causes more shareholders to sell large blocks of stock in 2012, it will increase income tax payments, which could offset some of the weakness arising from the lower share price," Moody's said.
California's tax structure is highly reliant on personal income taxes on the wealthy, creating a volatile environment for tax revenue. The state's 10.3% personal income tax rate for top earners is one of the highest in the country, and it taxes capital gains at the same rate.
Personal income tax revenues linked to Facebook won't be available until the governor releases new revenue projections in his proposed budget in January.