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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Press Releases

February 3, 2015, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

DiNapoli: Local Sales Tax Growth Slows

Local sales tax collections in 2014 suffered the slowest annual growth since the end of the 2008-09 recession, according to a report issued today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Collections across the state grew by $439 million, or 3 percent, from 2013 to 2014. In 2013, the growth rate was 5.2 percent. New York’s 15-year annual average growth in sales taxes is 4.2 percent.

“Municipalities across this state know all too well the volatile nature of sales tax revenue in uncertain economic times,” said DiNapoli. “When our local governments have slower-than-expected revenue growth, the results can have a serious impact on their budgets now and in the future. As the 2015 fiscal year unfolds, I recommend local leaders continue their vigilance in monitoring their revenues and spending and be ready to tighten their belts should this slowdown continue.”

DiNapoli’s report found that nearly 70 percent of the total growth in local sales tax collections last year took place in New York City. The city’s sales tax collections grew by $304 million, or 4.8 percent from 2013 to 2014, compared to 6.8 percent growth in 2013.

Meanwhile, the increase in county sales tax collections, excluding all cities, was 1.3 percent from 2013 to 2014 – significantly lower than the 3.8 percent growth experienced from 2012 to 2013.

Regionally, the strongest 2014 sales tax growth was in the North Country, which increased 7.7 percent. Much of this can be explained by increases in sales tax rates in three counties that took effect in late 2013, but were in place for all of 2014. Essex and Lewis counties increased their tax rates from 3.75 percent to 4 percent, while St. Lawrence County increased its rate from 3 to 4 percent.

Other regions, however, experienced modest growth. For example, the Capital District’s collections were up 3.5 percent, and the Mid-Hudson Valley and Southern Tier were up 3 percent. Growth rates in other regions were below the statewide average: Central New York (2.6 percent), the Mohawk Valley (2.1), Western New York (1.9) and the Finger Lakes (0.9).

On Long Island, sales tax collections declined by 1.4 percent from 2013 to 2014. This was due in part to the reduction in rebuilding efforts in the wake of “Superstorm Sandy” in late 2012. These efforts had pushed Long Island sales tax collections to grow 6.9 percent in 2013. The 2014 rate reflects a return to more normal growth levels.

Additional findings in DiNapoli’s report include:

  • Sales tax collections grew in 52 of the 57 counties outside of New York City;
  • The five counties with declines in sales tax collections were: Clinton (0.2 percent), Genesee (0.2 percent), Nassau (4.3 percent), Oneida (0.1 percent) and Seneca (1.4 percent); and
  • Sales taxes made up 33 percent of all county revenues. Of this, 7.5 percent was distributed by the counties to other local governments, including cities, towns, villages and school districts.

For a copy of the report, visit: http://osc.state.ny.us/localgov/pubs/research/snapshot/localsalestaxcollections0215.pdf

For a list of county-by-county sales tax collections, visit:
http://osc.state.ny.us/localgov/pubs/research/snapshot/localsalestaxcollectionstable0215.pdf

For access to state and local government spending and more than 50,000 state contracts, visit http://www.openbooknewyork.com/. The easy-to-use website was created by DiNapoli to promote openness in government and provide taxpayers with better access to the financial workings of government.

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