Kansas tax revenue narrowly tops November target, governor seeks new federal aid

    Gov. Laura Kelly renewed an appeal for a new emergency federal COVID-19 package despite state tax revenue surpassing projections for November. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)
    Gov. Laura Kelly renewed an appeal for a new emergency federal COVID-19 package despite state tax revenue surpassing projections for November. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

    TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly reacted to a report Tuesday showing state tax collections exceeded projections in November with a renewed appeal for passage of a federal stimulus package to help state and local governments struggling to mitigate economic damage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Kelly, a Topeka Democrat, said the monthly tax update showed the state took in $556.8 million, which was 1.1% or $6 million more than the latest estimate of budget analysts. Last month’s tally was $22.9 million or 4.3% more than the state received from taxpayers in November 2019.

    Rapid spread of coronavirus in Kansas can reverse the state’s revenue trend absent swift mitigation of the pandemic, the governor said.

    “Without economic relief from Washington, there is a growing concern of a national recession in the foreseeable future,” Kelly said. “My administration renews its requests to Congress to prioritize and pass economic relief as the COVID-19 pandemic continues impacting Kansas households and the economic outlook of the state.”

    The Kansas Department of Revenue said the state’s individual and corporate income tax collections were greater than predicted in November. Retails sales tax collections straddled the estimate and compensating use tax remitted by online retailers surpassed the state’s expectations.

    Retail sales tax revenue fell $22,000 below the November estimate to come in at $201.7 million. That was $204,000, or 0.1%, more than received in November 2019. However, compensating use tax collections climbed $4.1 million or 9.2% above the November estimate to $49.2 million. That represented an increase of $7.8 million beyond last November’s total.

    Mark Burghart, secretary of the Department of Revenue, said the sales tax figures illustrated the pandemic accelerated change in consumer behavior by encouraging more online purchases. The 2021 Legislature can consider adjustments to the state’s tax base when the session starts in January, he said.

    “In the interim,” he said, “the pandemic continues to negatively impact many Kansas-based brick and mortar stores which still need financial relief from the federal level.”

    The state revenue department reported Kansas individual income tax collections were $275.4 million in November. That surpassed the month’s estimate by 0.4% or $1.2 million. It represented an increase of 9.1% or $22.9 million from the November 2019 total.

    In terms of corporate income tax collections, Kansas reported receiving $5.2 million durin the month. That was 5.7% or $277,000 more than the estimate for November, but down $5.4 million from November 2019. State officials said the steep decline was attributable to refunds paid to corporations.

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    Tim Carpenter
    Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.