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M. Scott Carter
M. Scott Carter

M. Scott Carter reports on politics, legislation and other issues from the State Capitol.

Oklahoma’s August tax collections increased by 7.5 percent, the largest percentage increase in monthly receipts since July 2013, State Treasurer Ken Miller said in a media statement. Miller said August receipts “were just less than $900 million.”

“Oklahoma’s economy continues to climb up the expansion side of the business cycle,” Miller said. “Our people are earning and spending more, as reflected by steady growth in income tax and sales tax receipts.”

However, it’s too early to say just how much money state lawmakers will have to spend for the 2016 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2015.

“You’re really talking about apples and oranges,” Miller’s spokesman, Tim Allen, said. “The universe we’re looking at is gross revenue. Only around half or a little less actually makes it to the general revenue fund.” Other money is earmarked for certain purposes.

Allen said lawmakers wouldn’t really have a good picture of available funds until revenue estimates were completed at the end of the year.

Data released by Miller’s office showed personal income tax collections up by almost 7 percent from last August. Sales tax receipts grew by 4.2 percent. Overall, 12-month gross receipts have climbed by $2.5 billion, or 26 percent.

Miller said all major revenue categories grew in August, with the tax on oil and natural gas production up by the largest percentage, at 13.8 percent.

A spokesman for Preston Doerflinger, state finance secretary, said officials hope next year’s revenue picture is better than last year. Budget officials, John Estus said, remain concerned about corporate tax returns. He said some large corporations could file amended state tax returns that reduce the amount of growth revenue.

“We don’t know how much longer these corporate anomalies will last,” Estus said. “We are cautiously, and I emphasize cautiously, optimistic.”

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