Sales tax revenue soars in May

Glenn Hegar is the Texas Comptroller.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar today said state sales tax revenue totaled $3.4 billion in May, the highest-ever monthly total and 30.1 percent more than in May 2020.

As with April’s results, year-over-year increases for most tax revenues this month and in the coming months will be among the highest in the history of the data series. This is due to base effects; year-ago revenue collections to which this year’s collections are compared were severely suppressed by the pandemic. Compared to May 2019, sales tax collections were up 12.9 percent.

The majority of May sales tax revenue is based on sales made in April and remitted to the agency in May.

“Resurgent consumer spending drove monthly state sales tax collections to a new high,” Hegar said. “Supported by the end of pandemic restrictions, further vaccination progress and declines in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, continued recovery in employment, and federal stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment benefits, receipts from all retail sectors other than grocery stores surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

“Sales at retailers that had benefited from pandemic spending – online and big box general merchandisers, building materials and home furnishings stores, sporting goods and hobby stores – continued at elevated levels, while sales at retailers severely depressed last year, such as clothing stores and electronics and appliance stores, rebounded sharply from last spring.

“Spending at restaurants also surpassed pre-pandemic levels, with increased dine-in patronage adding to still elevated take-out and delivery business. While total spending in the sector increased sharply from a year ago, the recovery was uneven, with business at large popular restaurant chains up sharply while many smaller venues continued to languish. Spending at theme parks and live entertainment venues, though remaining below pre-pandemic levels, also was up significantly from a year ago, while business at fitness centers showed little evidence of recovery.

“Receipts from oil- and gas-related sectors fell below year-ago levels, as drilling and well development activity remained substantially below pre-pandemic levels despite the rise in crude oil prices in recent months.”

Total sales tax revenue for the three months ending in May 2021 was up 19.4 percent compared to the same period a year ago. Sales tax is the largest source of state funding for the state budget, accounting for 59 percent of all tax collections.

Texas collected the following revenue from other major taxes, all of which were up sharply from a year ago due to base effects:

• Motor vehicle sales and rental taxes — $554 million, a record monthly amount; up 109 percent from May 2020, and up 29 percent from May 2019;

• Motor fuel taxes — $315 million, up 42 percent from May 2020, and down 0.4 percent from May 2019;

• Oil production tax — $364 million, up 303 percent from May 2020, and down 1 percent from May 2019;

• Natural gas production tax — $131 million, up 323 percent from May 2020, and up 1 percent from May 2019;

• Hotel occupancy tax — $48 million, up 509 percent from May 2020, and down 18 percent from May 2019;

• Alcoholic beverage taxes — $126 million, up 355 percent from May 2020, and up 8 percent from May 2019.

For details on all monthly collections, visit the Comptroller’s Monthly State Revenue Watch. For an extensive history of tax policy developments and fees since 1972, visit the updated “Sources of Revenue” publication.

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