Finance Officer: “Sales tax remains strong for the year”

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2023

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Much like you’re keeping tabs on your taxes as April 15 approaches, so is the county government. They are keeping a watchful eye on revenue from tax levies and sales tax.  

Tax levy collection for April 2022 was at $33.673 million or 97.34%. As of this month, the county is at $34.471 million or 97.15% or a difference of $800,000 and nineteen hundredths of a percent, according to Finance Officer for Beaufort County Anita Radcliffe who provided information to the county commissioners at their regular meeting on Monday, April 3. 

“All of that we can contribute to growth, because you can see the collection rate is actually slightly down nineteen-hundredths of a percent this year compared to where we were last year,” Radcliffe said. 

The tax levy and sales tax are monitored closely by the finance office, because they make up 80% of the general budget revenues, she explained. A majority of sales tax goes to fund the public school system.  

January 2023 sales tax collections were $1,021,586 for an increase of 13.2% from January 2022 which was 902,270 but it is still 6.8% lower than the statewide percent which was at 20% this year.  Radcliffe clarified that the $1.02 million needs an asterisk, because it is an inflated amount. The state of North Carolina did not issue an annual refund to Beaufort County nonprofits in January of this year; therefore, a more realistic figure is approximately $960,000 out of $1.02 million. Each year, nonprofits in the county receive a total of $500,000 annually from the state which equates to $42,000 per year. Next month, nonprofits will receive a double helping of refunds to recoup the missed amount from January. 

“Sales tax remains strong for the year,” Radcliffe said. “We are up 11.4% for the last seven months we have collected this year.” 

As the county’s annual budget is written in the coming months, Radcliffe said she and County Manager Brian Alligood will have to decide the growth factor for sales tax. She said it will be a challenge to determine, because revenue has been largely unstable since 2018.  

According to Radcliffe, the county’s sales tax revenue grew 4.6% from the previous year. In 2019, the county grew 8.4%, but in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic sales tax revenue was at 4.6%. Conversely, in 2021 revenue shot up to 14%. Last year, the county’s revenue dipped to 9.8%. Radcliffe said it’s normal for the county to be at around 5%. 

She said for the last two years, the growth has been attributed to inflation and COVID-19 stimulus checks citizens received.