By GARRY RAYNO, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD — Despite a year under the COVID-19 pandemic, New Hampshire ended the fiscal year Wednesday with more than $300 million of revenue surplus on a cash basis.
The figures released late Friday afternoon by the Department of Administrative Services indicate business taxes are responsible for more than two-thirds of the surplus.
The state collected nearly $3 billion in general and education fund money for the 2021 fiscal year in unaudited figures. Revenues will be adjusted later in the month to account for money collected in fiscal 2021, but owed in the current — 2022 — fiscal year.
On a cash basis, the $2.97 billion in revenue was over budget estimates by $310.5 million, but that does not account for accruals of $30.8 million auditors found in finalizing the state’s books for the 2020 fiscal year.
When that is taken into account, the state collected $2.935 billion, resulting in a revenue surplus of $280 million or about 10 percent.
For the final month of the 2021 fiscal year, the state collected $320.5 million, a surplus of $36.2 million.
Business taxes for the year totaled $1 billion, or $215 million more than anticipated, and $321.6 million more than collected a year ago.
House budget writers expect business tax revenues to be inflated for 2021 due to some companies basing their tax liability on federal Paycheck Protection Program grants they received before the state changed the law to exempt awards.
The new biennial operating budget approved last month reduces the rates for the business profits and the business enterprise taxes, as well as for the rooms and meals tax and the interest and dividends tax and begins phasing out that levy.
The state’s second largest revenue producer, the rooms and meals tax has borne the pandemic’s brunt with returns well below estimates since the coronavirus began infecting state residents in March 2020.
However, there was some good news in June when the rooms and meals tax beat estimates of $32.2 million by $100,000. According to the Department of Revenue Administration, lodging activity was up 343 percent over June a year ago, and meals up 68.5 percent.
However the picture is bleaker for year end figures as the levy produced $321.4 million for the fiscal year, which is $65.5 million below estimates and $4.2 million below what was collected in the prior fiscal year.
The tobacco tax continued to produce more than anticipated both for June and for the 2021 fiscal year. For June it produced $26.7 million, $8.5 million more than estimates, and $251 million for the fiscal year, $38.5 million more than estimates.
The interest and dividends tax produced $15.8 million in June, $1.6 million below estimates, but $137.5 million for the fiscal year, $28.6 million ahead of estimates and $20.6 million more than the prior year.
The real estate transfer tax continues to produce significantly more than estimated at $202.7 million for the 2021 fiscal year, which is $44.3 million more than anticipated and $44.2 million more than the prior fiscal year.
The state benefits from the red hot real estate market as the DRA reports transactions for June were up nearly 40 percent over a year ago, and values up 75 percent.
The Lottery Commission had a banner year with several large national jackpots, producing $144.4 million, an increase of $34 million over estimates and $41.2 million more than the previous fiscal year.
Liquor revenues were $143.4 million for the fiscal year, an increase of $9.6 million over estimates and $11.9 million more than the prior fiscal year.
Along with the rooms and meals tax, securities revenues and the utility property tax were below estimates for the fiscal year securities $2.7 million, and utility property $6 million.
The Highway Fund, which has suffered the second biggest impact from the pandemic, did not rebound as much as the rooms and meals tax in June, instead producing $3 million less than anticipated for the month.
For the fiscal year, the Highway Fund is $14.7 million less than estimates producing $241.3 million. The fund consists largely of gas tax receipts and vehicle registration revenue.
The Fish and Game Fund has produced $15.8 million for the 2021 fiscal year, which is $2.9 million more than estimates.
The new fiscal year began Thursday.
Garry Rayno may be reached at email@example.com.