Sales tax rebound continues statewide; Schenectady County sees one-time blip

PHOTOGRAPHER:

SCHENECTADY — Schenectady County sales tax revenue skyrocketed 131% in April 2021 over April 2020, nearly double the next-highest county increase and nearly triple the average of counties statewide in April.

The $12.4 million that rolled into the county’s coffers in April is not the new normal, however — it’s a one-time influx, and it looks even bigger than it is because of the circumstances involved.

The Office of the State Comptroller reported monthly sales tax revenue on Friday. Year over year, April sales tax revenue was 62.9% higher in the eight-county Capital Region and 45.7% higher statewide. 

Schenectady County Manager Rory Fluman said much of the county’s jump in revenue can be attributed to a single company. But that’s not because it enjoyed a big increase in sales — rather, it had a big past-due bill.

If a retailer disputes a sales tax liability, that liability is placed on hold until the state and the company resolve the disagreement, he explained.

A company that made a lot of sales in Schenectady County did this, Fluman said, and lost its appeal three weeks ago.

It’s not the first blip the county has ever seen. “Sometimes, we’ll get a sudden large payment from the state,” he added.

The identity of the company in question is confidential, as per state law.

Two other factors are at play in the background, though they aren’t specific to Schenectady County:

April 2020 was a terrible year for sales tax collection, down 24% from April 2019 statewide and 29% in Schenectady County due to COVID-related restrictions on retail activity. 

Also, Fluman said, the sales tax distribution formula has been rebalanced to the benefit of counties outside New York City.

Here is the sales tax revenue disbursed by the state to local governments the first four months of 2021, and the percentage increase from the same period of 2020:

  • Albany County $91.6M 8.5%
  • Fulton County $7.7M 20.1%
  • Gloversville $1.1M 25.4%
  • Johnstown $1.2M 8.4%
  • Montgomery County $11.7M 18.7%
  • Rensselaer County $32.3M 19.5%
  • Saratoga County $44.4M 17.3%
  • Saratoga Springs $3.7M 14.4%
  • Schenectady County $39.2M 32.3%
  • Schoharie County $5.5M 20.3%

Categories: Business, News

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