For March 2023, Kansas tax revenue was 11.3 percent higher than March 2022. Collections for fiscal year 2023 after nine months are 9.5 percent greater than the prior year, and 9.5 percent above estimates.
Tax reports from the State of Kansas for March 2023 show tax revenues higher than the same month the prior year.
When reporting on Kansas tax collections, the comparison is usually to the estimated tax collections. Those estimates are revised based on economic conditions. To get a feel for the effects of the Kansas economy and state tax policy, we should compare to the same month the prior year. (The estimated revenue figures are still important because the state bases the budget on them. If the actual revenue is below the estimated revenue, there may not be enough income to pay expenses.)
For March 2023, individual income tax collections were $314.6 million, higher by 5.5 percent than the previous March. Retail sales tax collections fell by 1.6 percent from the previous March to $214.1 million. Total tax collections were $758.3 million, up 11.6 percent from last March. Table 1 summarizes. (Click charts and tables for larger versions.)
March was the third month for the new sales tax rate on groceries. The previous rate was a uniform 6.5 percent on all retail sales. Starting January 1, the tax on groceries fell to 4.0 percent. Sales tax revenue nonetheless rose by 4.4 percent from February 2022, probably from the fact that inflation caused prices to rise. The lower rate would result in less sales tax collection, all things being equal. But inflation has caused grocery prices to rise, which supplies an upward force to sales tax collections.
For fiscal year 2023, which started on July 1, 2022 and ends with June 2023, total tax collections through March are higher by 9.5 percent over the previous fiscal year. Table 2 shows these figures.
Charts 4a and 4b compare collections to the same month of the previous year.
Kansas tax revenues continue to outperform estimates. Table 3 summarizes the variance between estimated and actual revenue for major tax items.
When the line is above zero in nearby chart 5a, actual revenue was greater than the estimate, and the line is nearly always positive for the past five years or so. Estimates are important because the legislature uses them to make spending decisions. Beyond that, the variance between actual revenue and the estimate doesn’t have much meaning.
The governor uses a positive variance as a sign of economic success, remarking in her press release for this month: “Time and again, we have exceeded our estimated tax collections, providing further proof that we can responsibly axe taxes on groceries, retirement, and property for Kansans.”
For the month before this, she said: “Revenues have exceeded estimates for 30 out of the last 31 months — a clear sign that our efforts to make Kansas a place where businesses and families want to call home is paying off.” But this is not the only conclusion to draw. Exceeding estimates just as easily means the estimates are wrong, possibly for reasons other than the inherent difficulties of making estimates. And if the purpose of these estimates is to be accurate, the state is not doing a very good job.
Over the past five or so years, revenues have exceeded estimates, sometimes by large margins. Chart 5b shows the cumulative variance for each fiscal year, with a positive number meaning actual collections were greater than estimated. The trend of positive variances starting with fiscal year 2018 is distinct. This chart does not show total collections and does not illustrate the health of the Kansas economy. It simply compares estimates to actuals.
I have updated my interactive visualization of Kansas tax revenue with this data. Click here to use it.
The governor’s press release for this month is Governor Kelly Announces March Total Tax Collections Surpass Estimate by Nearly $65 Million. The report from Kansas Legislative Research Department is on this page.