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May 02. 2013 3:02PM

April brought in $48 million more than expected for state coffers

CONCORD - For the second month in a row, state revenues are running well ahead of schedule and currently show a $33.8 million surplus for the year.

Led by business tax returns and one-time money from settlements with tobacco and oil companies, state general fund revenue for April was $305 million, or $48.3 million more than budget writers estimated, and $54.5 million more than a year ago.

For the first 10 months of the 2013 fiscal year, state revenues total $1.96 billion, which is $33.8 million more than estimates and $102.3 million more than a year ago.

Business taxes continued their strong showing from March, returning $92.5 million, $17.7 million more than anticipated and $18.5 million more than April 2012.

Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon said the business taxes are wonderful news. The returns are up 12 percent from a year ago and companies' estimated tax filings are up 7 percent, she said, which bodes well for June, another big month for businesses taxes.

"The state is now likely to close the current biennium with more revenue than planned, allowing us to overcome shortfalls in the last legislature's budget from unrealized Medicaid Enhancement Tax revenues, unbudgeted expenditures and projected savings that did not materialize," said Gov. Maggie Hassan. "In addition, if current trends continue and there is a surplus generated for fiscal year 2013, we will have an important opportunity to strengthen New Hampshire's Rainy Day fund, a responsible approach that will improve our short- and long-term fiscal situation."

April's revenues include the tobacco settlement money which was estimated to be $42.4 million, but was $63.2 million, or $20.8 million more than anticipated.

The additional money comes from another settlement reached with tobacco companies over money they withheld from statements to the states, claiming states including New Hampshire failed to abide by the original agreement.

The state also received $6.4 million as a result of the MtBE settlement with oil companies. The state retains 10 percent of the money to recover costs incurred in the litigation.

Without the one-time money for the two settlements, general fund revenue would be $21.1 million more than anticipated for April.

Interest and Dividend taxes also produced more than anticipated for April, returning $40.6 million, or $2.6 million above estimates and $4.5 million more than a year ago.The communications tax continued to produce less money than forecast after lawmakers last year passed a law prohibiting taxing Internet access.

In April, the levy produced $3.9 million, or $3.2 million less than estimates and $3 million less than a year ago. To date the tax is $16.5 million below estimates with two months to go in the fiscal year.

Hodgdon said the Department of Revenue Administration is beginning an audit to determine the cause of the shortfall.

"They said they would need six months of returns to do an audit, but it is tied to the change in law," she said. "It looks very disappointing, the $16.5 million hurts."

Producing more revenue than forecast for April were the rooms and meals tax, securities and lottery revenues and the utility property tax, while the tobacco tax and liquor commission returns were below estimates for the month.

Hodgdon said the revenues for the year to date are good news, but she is concerned about the lapses of money state agencies are supposed to save from their budgets and not spend.

"The budget is so tight and the elimination of 1,200 positions which the agencies used to meet their lapses last time, will be difficult," she said. "It's good news, however."


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