Tax revenues bounce back, yet still short of benchmark

With one month to go, collections $619m, or 1.7%, less than forecast


STATE TAX REVENUES surpassed expectations in May after an unexpectedly steep nosedive in April, yet the total haul remains hundreds of millions of dollars short of projections with the budget year drawing to a close, officials said Monday.

The Department of Revenue announced Monday that Massachusetts collected $2.706 billion in May 2023, an increase of $236 million, or 9.5 percent, over May 2022 and $169 million, or 6.7 percent, above the most recent benchmark projection for the month.

That’s a bounceback after April, when tax collections dropped more than $2 billion from the prior year, causing both supporters and opponents of tax relief bills to suggest plans be reevaluated.

Healey administration officials signaled at the time they were optimistic they would not need to cut government spending to make up the potential year-end revenue shortfall, particularly given the sizable amounts of money in various state accounts.

Massachusetts has collected about $35.026 billion in taxes through the first 11 months of fiscal 2023. That pace lags collections through the same stretch of last year, when an unprecedented surplus triggered a long-dormant tax relief law, by $1.936 billion.

The state does not publicly report its spending in the same kind of monthly reports that allow outsiders to track revenue trends.

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Chris Lisinski

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After adjusting for the net impact of a pass-through entity excise, DOR said year-to-date tax collections are $619 million or 1.7 percent less than Beacon Hill budget-writers projected in their most recent year-to-date benchmarks and $583 million less than the original benchmarks used to craft the FY23 state budget.

June is the last month of the fiscal year and a comparatively big one, for better or worse, for tax receipts. The Legislature usually stretches spending decisions into the fall when it approves a final supplemental budget to close out the fiscal year.