Sales tax revenue for Greene County for May made a huge jump over the same month last year.
“Our sales tax revenue this month is 30.48 percent higher than the same month last year,” said Greene County Treasurer Debbie Cross in an email to county officials. “This is the highest month we have had since I have been in office, beating the former highest amount (February 2021) by over $100,000.”
Figures she made available showed gross sales tax revenue was $750,682, compared to $575,327 for May 2020. The gross revenue Cross cited for February 2021 was $646,827 – itself up 12.27 percent from the February 2020 figure of $567,443.
Cross said the the most likely explanation for the big jump was the combination of the $600 stimulus checks sent out in March (May’s figures reflect taxes collected in March), coupled with the receipt of income tax refunds. She added the big jump was not exclusive to Greene County, either. “I talked to Craighead County,” she said, “and they were up 34.63 percent.”
Cross added that in addition, Faulkner County (Conway) and Washington County (Fayetteville) had realized similar large increases in sales tax gross revenue. “Faulkner was up 27.45 percent and Washington was up 31.61 percent,” she said.
Arkansas Gov Asa Hutchinson noted on June 3 that the May revenue report reflects a $980 million budget surplus, largest in state history. “The surplus affirms the wisdom of our belt-tightening decisions and tells us that this fall we can cut our income tax rate again,” he said. “Our economy is roaring back.”
Cross added that just the sales taxes collected on used cars had shown a large jump over 2020. “They [used car dealers] are buying everything at the auctions,” she said, “doesn’t matter what it is. They’re buying it and bringing it home – and selling it just as soon as it shows up on the lot.”
Cross suggested caution, however. “A hundred thousand dollars [increase] is good, yes,” she said. “But I don’t want us to get a false sense of security.”
Nonetheless, figures she made available showed an overall year-to-date increase in sales tax revenue of 13.99 percent over January to May of 2020.