Va. revenues dip in Sept., 3rd decline since June

BOB LEWIS, AP Political Writer

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia's general tax collections for September declined, leaving actual revenues behind a budgeted forecast for modest growth one quarter into the state fiscal year.

September's 0.7 percent drop is the third monthly decline in the past four months and the fourth since December in the fund that covers core state services such as public safety, health care and education.

General fund collections were down in July by 1.8 percent, 0.4 percent in June and 4.7 percent in December. The recent turbulence follows 16 consecutive months of growth from August 2010 through last November. Virginia ended the last fiscal year on June 30 with an unspent balance of $448 million.

That puts year-to-date general fund collections after three months 1.3 percent ahead of revenues at the same point last year. But budgeted state spending is based on a growth forecast of 2.9 percent.

Finance Secretary Ric Brown said poor corporate tax collections aggravated by two fewer deposit days last month than in February of 2011 are to blame.

September is a significant month for tax collections with estimated quarterly payments due from individuals, corporations and the taxes collected on insurance premiums. Corporate taxes were down by 18 percent, to $155 million from $188 million last September. Nonwithholding individual income tax collections were up 5.1 percent, from $268 million in September 2011 to $282 million last month.

Income taxes withheld from salaries, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of general revenues, increased last month by 0.5 percent.

The tax collected when wills, lawsuits, contract and real estate deeds are recorded grew by nearly 1 percent in September, the eighth monthly increase in a row, further evidence of a continued housing market rebound from a deep crash that began in 2007-2008.