With or Without Gasoline Revenue, Georgia Tax Collections in the Red

Dave Williams

Wednesday, November 8th, 2023

Capitol Beat is a nonprofit news service operated by the Georgia Press Educational Foundation that provides coverage of state government to newspapers throughout Georgia. For more information visit capitol-beat.org.

Georgia tax collections fell an adjusted 5.7% last month compared to October of last year, the state Department of Revenue reported Tuesday.

That decline does not take into account the revenues from Georgia’s sales tax on gasoline and other motor fuels the state collected last month. If that $70.5 million is included, the decreased tax revenue for October is lessened to a 3.1% drop compared October 2022.

The tax revenue outlook for the state is complicated by Gov. Brian Kemp having temporarily suspended the gas tax twice, making month-to-month comparisons difficult. Each time, the governor cited the impact of inflation on prices at the pump.

Kemp first suspended the tax in March of last year and continued it into last January. He then resumed the suspension two months ago.

Individual income tax and net sales tax collections last month reflect the red ink. Individual income taxes in October declined 11.8% compared to the same month last year, driven by a 30.2% increase in tax refunds the revenue department issued and a 32.6% decline in tax return payments.

Net sales tax receipts fell by a less precipitous 1.6%.

Corporate income tax revenues actually rose by 24.3% last month, with payments up by 18.7% compared to October 2022.

Gasoline prices in Georgia have dropped this week to a statewide average of $2.89 per gallon of regular, significantly above the national average, according to AAA. However, with the state sitting on a huge budget surplus, Kemp has the leeway to continue the suspension of the gas tax beyond the current Nov. 11 expiration date if he so chooses.