BOSTON (State House News Service) – Top Senate Democrats have offered only a cloudy outlook for taking up a House-approved tax relief bill, and a critical April tax collection report expected Wednesday could be factoring into their calculations.
Senate Ways and Means Committee spokesperson Sean Fitzgerald last week indicated the chamber’s leaders are likely to unveil their proposal for tax relief before they roll out their fiscal 2024 budget proposal, but then said that even a basic order of operations of tax bill rollout followed by budget rollout was not locked in, muddying a timeline that many are eager to see clarity on.
Senate budget chief Michael Rodrigues declined multiple interview requests with the News Service this week, citing a busy schedule, and his spokesman declined to immediately say Wednesday if revenues tailing off over the first half of April was a factor in when the Senate will entertain a tax relief bill. The Department of Revenue on Wednesday plans to report on tax collections for April, which will show whether the state continues to haul in more revenue than officials previously projected or if the pace instead has slowed, and if so by how much.
Total tax collections through March were about $870 million above the original benchmarks for fiscal 2023 used to build the budget, but Administration and Finance Secretary Matthew Gorzkowicz told local officials last month he’ll be tracking April numbers closely because that month has “the potential of making or breaking a fiscal year.” Through mid-April, total state tax collections of $1.597 billion were running $848 million or nearly 35 percent below collections during the same period in April 2022, according to the Department of Revenue, which advises against uses mid-month data to predict trends.
Historically, April ranks as the largest month of the year for tax collections because the individual tax filing season crests and payments made with returns are concentrated in April, while refunds are spread across February, March and April. While pushing an ambitious spending agenda, legislative leaders have been reluctant to push ahead with targeted tax relief in part due to concerns about slowing revenue growth and the possibility of a recession around the corner.
“The big month will be coming in April, of course. That’s the month that we’re all waiting for,” Rodrigues said in March after estimating the state had about $600 million in available surplus with a little over the quarter of the fiscal year still yet to go.