NM gets big bump in state tax revenue in 2011

By Rob Nikolewski on April 17, 2012
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It seems whenever a national survey comes out, the good people of New Mexico have become used to bracing themselves for bad news.

But the state received some rare good news on Tuesday (April 17) when a survey released by the US Census Bureau showed New Mexico racking up the fourth-best increase in state total tax revenue in 2011.

The Census Bureau’s annual report contains statistics on the fiscal year tax collections of all 50 state governments, including receipts from licenses and compulsory fees. It provides a summary of taxes collected by states for up to 25 tax categories.

All 50 states finished in positive figures compared to 2010. Here’s how the top four states in the 2011 survey did:

State Pct Increase
1 North Dakota 44.5%
2 Alaska 22.4%
3 Illinois 15.3%
4 New Mexico 15.1%

“We really had a bounce back year,” Department of Finance and Administration Secretary Tom Clifford said in a phone interview Tuesday. Dr. Clifford attributed a large part of the increase in revenue to a number of factors, including a boost in personal income tax numbers, corporate tax revenue (largely from the oil and natural gas industries) and the legislature’s decision in 2010 to slightly increase the gross receipts tax from 5 percent to 5.125.

“We have definitely turned the corner,” Clifford said. “We’re starting to bounce back, albeit from a lower level.”

Clifford’s right about that.

The Census Bureau survey marks the first uptick in total tax revenue for New Mexico after three straight years of decline. I went back and looked at the bureau’s figures from the last 10 years and noticed that the 2011 numbers are the largest since those halcyon days of 2008 when the state was rolling in dough:

NM Tax Collections
(in thousands)
2011 4,980,115
2010 4,327,815
2009 4,817,277
2008 5,211,507
2007 5,527,217
2006 5,110,683
2005 4,478,321
2004 4,001,780
2003 3,607,156
2002 3,628,055
Source:
US Census Bureau

“The odds look pretty good we’ll have a better FY 2012,” Clifford said, pointing to increases in oil production in the Permian Basin among other factors.

So who can take the political credit for New Mexico finishing in the top four of a national survey for once, instead of the bottom four?

“Well, I think the governor can certainly argue she’s trying to create jobs and her programs are having some positive effect,” Clifford said.

Asked for a reaction, Matt Ross of the Democratic Party of New Mexico said through an e-mail:

“Tax revenue is up because the economy is recovering under President Obama’s leadership. President Obama saved our country from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression while cutting taxes for 95 percent of working families through the Recovery Act. Today’s news that revenue has not only stabilized, but in fact increased in New Mexico is a direct result of his leadership in bringing our economy back from the brink of collapse. We’ve now experienced 25 straight months of private-sector growth job, with over 4 million jobs added to the economy.

“But there is more we can do. The Buffet Rule, based on the simple principle of tax fairness, would help continue this positive trend by ensuring that millionaires and billionaires don’t pay a lower tax rate than middle-class families. Everyone should do their fair share to reduce our deficit and invest in things like education, infrastructure, and innovation that help New Mexico’s economy grow.”

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Nationally, the Census Bureau survey reported that overall government tax collections for states increased $55.7 billion to $757.2 billion in fiscal year 2011.

Corporate net income tax revenue was at $40.2 billion, up 9.4 percent, while tax revenue on individual income was at $259.1 billion, up 9.8 percent. General sales tax revenue was at $234.5 billion, up 5.4 percent. Corporate net income tax revenue, individual income tax revenue and general sales tax revenue comprised 70.5 percent of all state government tax collections nationally.

Click here to see details of the annual survey.

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