Taxable sales up by double digits again |

Taxable sales up by double digits again

While everyone waits to see what the new taxes approved by lawmakers generate this year Nevada’s sales taxes are coming through so far.

Taxable sales were up another 10.8 percent for October putting sales totals up 11.3 percent for the first four months of fiscal 2004 – more than double the increase projected by the Economic Forum.

Actual tax collections did even better than that – increasing more than 16 percent for October and 12.3 percent for the four-month period. The extra comes primarily because the legislature reduced the percentage of tax revenues retailers get to keep for their costs in acting as tax collector.

Gov. Kenny Guinn said the reduction is an unexpected boon to the state and an indicator that Nevada’s economy is strong.

“I am hopeful Nevada’s economic prosperity will continue and the new and existing revenue sources continue to meet or exceed expectations,” he said.

In Carson City, taxable sales were up 8.2 percent to $74.8 million for the month. Carson is up just 3.7 percent for the year thus far but, with three of the last four months positive, the capital city may have pulled out of a yearlong slump following Wal-Mart’s move to Douglas County and the closure of the Super Kmart.

One of the leading sales categories statewide was auto and gasoline sales – up 10.7 percent in October – the traditional start of the new model year. In Carson City, sales in the category rose 16.2 percent to $24. 8 million.

Douglas, meanwhile, recorded one of its most modest increases in more than a year with a 4.7 percent increase in taxable sales to $56.9 million.

Even so, Douglas sales are up 8.5 percent for the fiscal year.

Washoe County reported a 6.4 percent gain to $472.9 million for October. The county is up 7.7 percent in total sales for the year.

But the big numbers were driven by the growth in Clark County which posted a 12.1 percent gain in October and 12.8 percent for the first four months of the fiscal year. Total October sales in Clark were $2.2 billion.

Lyon County also had a banner October, reporting a 15 percent increase in taxable sales to $24.7 million – primarily because of growth in both the Dayton corridor and Fernley. But Storey County, coming off a large one-time windfall a year ago, reported a 15.4 percent drop to $3.4 million.

Total taxable sales for the state were just over $3 billion in October.

The extra revenue sales taxes are generating is more than making up for the weak performance of Nevada’s gaming industry. Gaming taxes were projected to increase 3.5 percent this fiscal year. So far, gaming numbers have increased only 1.2 percent through the first four months of this fiscal year despite the fact lawmakers raised the tax a half-percent.

Between them, sales and gaming taxes provide more than 80 percent of Nevada’s general fund revenue each year.

And other revenues approved by the 2003 Legislature haven’t been on the books long enough to generate a track record yet. While liquor taxes appeared to be up for the first quarter, those levies are collected when the booze arrives in Nevada and so would show as revenue almost immediately.

Cigarette taxes, on the other hand, were lower than expected for the first quarter. But those are paid in the form of stamps and many distributors bought as many stamps as they could before the higher tax rate was imposed. That means the effect of higher cigarette taxes won’t show up until distributors have to buy more cigarette stamps.

Other new taxes such as the levy on live entertainment don’t take effect until January.

Contact Geoff Dornan at or call 687-8750.