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Taxable sales continue to increase

by Geoff Dornan

State officials are giving thanks once again as taxable sales revenues continue to increase faster than predicted when the state budget was constructed.

January’s 11.4 percent increase brings the overall increase for seven months of this fiscal year to 10.9 percent.

That is double what was projected by the Economic Forum. But every penny of the surplus is needed to counter the slump in gaming tax revenues – which are up just 1.76 percent for the year.

Both sales and gaming taxes were projected to increase about 5 percent for the year.

Statewide taxable sales for January were $2.88 billion. Every county was up compared to last January except Eureka – evidence of the poor year the state had in 2003.

Carson City showed a 4.3 percent increase for the month to $65.9 million in taxable sales. While that’s half the statewide increase, it’s good considering the loss of major stores to Douglas County over the past 18 months. Carson City is at 4.5 percent for the first seven months of this fiscal year.

Carson’s numbers would actually have been down overall except for a 12.7 percent increase in automotive and gasoline sales to a total of $24 million.

Douglas’s numbers were up 9.2 percent to $52.3 million. That is slightly behind the 11.9 percent this fiscal year in Douglas. Retail categories carried most of the weight since eating and drinking sales numbers from Stateline’s casinos were essentially flat.

Storey County’s numbers jumped nearly 117 percent in January – almost all of that credited to a thousand-fold increase in heavy construction and related categories. The county reported a total of $4.2 million in taxable sales – $1.5 million in heavy construction alone.

Lyon County sales grew 18.3 percent in January to $22.6 million. Wholesale trade and several building materials and construction categories turned in double-digit increases for the month.

Sales in Washoe County rose 8.4 percent to $437.3 million and sales in Clark 12.7 percent to $2.15 billion.

With the economy rebounding in Nevada, only two counties – Lander and Lincoln, are down this fiscal year.

Reductions in collection allowances combined with tax increases this fiscal year in Washoe, Clark and White Pine counties, gross revenues collections were up nearly 21 percent in January and 13.23 percent for the fiscal year.

Taxation Director Chuck Chinnock said excise taxes were up nearly 78 percent over the same month last year and up 26 percent for the seven months of this fiscal year because of increases in existing taxes and the addition of new taxes by the 2003 Legislature.

Cigarette tax rates went from 35 cents to 80 cents a pack and liquor tax rates increased 75 percent. But cigarette tax revenues are 6 percent below overall forecasts because purchases are less than projected. That is partly offset by increased purchases of liquor taxes which are running 7 percent more than projected.

The new Real Estate Transfer Tax brought in $24.5 million for the quarter ended Dec. 31 or 14 percent more than forecast.

But the Live Entertainment Tax effective this year brought in just $598,247 in January, significantly below projections.

Gov. Kenny Guinn said with the exception of cigarette and entertainment taxes, sales and excise taxes continue to show positive economic growth in Nevada. He said his administration will be keeping an eye on those areas in the coming months.

Contact Geoff Dornan at nevadaappeal@sbcglobal.net or 687-8750.