On Monday, August 10, Ohio’s Office of Budget and Management (OBM) released preliminary data on general revenue fund (GRF) receipts for the month of July. This is the first month of the new fiscal year. The total tax receipts for the month of July beat estimates by 8.2%. The total revenue produced from the tax receipts were nearly $2.43 billion dollars. Setting aside personal income tax for a moment, the good news is that both non-auto and auto sales tax receipts were above estimates. Sales tax from auto sales beat estimates by 36.3% and sales tax from other goods and services beat estimates by 11.4%. This is very good news as Ohio continues to deal with a public health pandemic. However, some of this growth may be driven by timing and federal stimulus money, so this revenue above estimation may be a short-term boost to the general revenue fund.

As you may recall, House Bill 197 contained a number of provisions to address the economic upheaval stemming from the COVID-19 public health pandemic. One provision pushed the annual income tax filing from April to July and moved the estimated payment filing dates from April and June to July. These changes moved anticipated revenue from fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2021. These changes allowed personal income tax receipts to beat estimates by 2.9%. On a year-over-year basis, July collections were $550.1 million dollars (87.3%) above July 2019 collections. These extensions may have caused some short-term reduction in general revenue fund coffers for fiscal year 2020, but state of Ohio government officials wisely determined that the public health pandemic would continue to cause economic disruption well into fiscal year 2021 and revenues were more needed then than now. Fiscal year 2021 will also see personal income tax revenue from the 2020 annual income tax filing date scheduled to take place in April 2021.  

Finally, as the public health pandemic causes further economic disruption it requires more government resources to aid Ohioans with their health and economic needs as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.  The July report from OBM reflects this fact when one examines the disbursements made during the month of July. Focusing solely on the functional reporting categories in the OBM report, there was a 4.9% increase in disbursements this July as compared to July 2019.