More grim budget news: January tax collections fall far short of projections

Days before lawmakers start writing budgets, they received another round of bad numbers.

January tax collections were down 21.9 percent from projections.

The cause, by now, is familiar. Individual income tax collections fell $87.5 million short of projections. That accounts for almost the entire shortfall, since sales tax collections were slightly below projections, but corporate income tax collections were slightly above projections.

All told, tax collections for this budget year now sit $128.3 million short of projections.

State analysts believe that the state’s economy is healthy, and the sluggish tax numbers are a matter of timing. They believe many Idahoans have not withheld enough taxes from their paychecks — a result of the federal tax bill passed in late 2017. And they believe the tax receipts will pick up in April, when Idahoans file their income tax returns.

But even if that uptick materializes, it will come too late for legislative budget-writers, who will begin working up budget bills this month.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee is scheduled to write the K-12 budget bills on Feb. 18, with other education budgets to follow.

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