AZ Economic Freefall Continues

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Another depressing reality check for the state’s financial picture: We still have not hit bottom in our declining tax revenues.

The lagging sales tax is one big reason. Retail sales were down by at 5.8 percent compared to February 2009, which was relatively good compared to the contracting sales tax, which was nearly 40 percent off compared to this time last year, according to the latest report from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

The good news: The overall drop of 8 percent in sales-tax collections was the first time in 16 months that it had been less than double digits. The bad news: Collections were still more than $10 million off the most recent projections, which bodes poorly for this year’s ending balance.

Income tax collections were $22 million below the forecast, but on the bright

side, they were up $55.7 million over February 2009.

Corporate income taxes were down a staggering 67 percent from February 2009, although the report notes that February “is a relatively small collection month.” For the first eight months of the fiscal year, corporate incomes taxes are down 57 percent compared to the previous year.

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