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Quarterly Tax Survey

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PURPOSE

This is a recurring annual survey of state government tax revenue, by type of tax. The survey covers the fifty state governments, as well as all dependent state-level governmental entities, providing a summary of annual taxes collected for up to 25 tax categories. The United States Code, Title 13, authorizes this survey and responses are voluntary.

The files and tables contain annual statistics for state governments only. They should not be interpreted as state-area data (state government plus local government tax collections combined).

While the data records are ultimately from state government sources, the classification of taxes among the different categories is entirely the responsibility of the Census Bureau. Therefore, tax classification might not reflect the actual classification or presentation as requested by the various state government respondents.

CONTENT

Statistics on the State Government Tax Collections Survey include measurement of tax by category: Property Tax, Sales and Gross Receipts Taxes, License Taxes, Income Taxes, and Other Taxes. Each tax category is broken down into sub-categories (e.g., motor fuel sales, alcoholic beverage sales, motor vehicle licenses, alcoholic beverage licenses, and so on). There are currently 25 different tax codes that state tax revenue may fall into.

In this survey, "taxes" are defined as all compulsory contributions exacted by a government for public purposes, except employer and employee assessments for retirement and social insurance purposes, which are classified as insurance trust revenue. Outside the scope of this collection are data on the unemployment compensation "taxes" imposed by each of the state governments. However, all receipts from licenses and compulsory fees, including those that are imposed for regulatory purposes, as well as those designated to provide revenue are included.

 

Tax revenue is further defined to include related penalty and interest receipts of a government, but to exclude protested amounts and refunds. The deduction from gross collections of amounts refunded is particularly significant with respect to motor fuel sales taxes ("gasoline" taxes) and individual income taxes.

The statistics reflect state government fiscal years that end on June 30, except for four states with other ending dates: Alabama and Michigan (September 30), New York (March 31), and Texas (August 31).

For further information on what is measured and how data are classified please consult Chapter 4 of the Government Finance and Employment Classification Manual [PDF, 427KB].

FREQUENCY

Data have been collected annually since 1939.

PRODUCTS

Viewable summary tables for the U.S. and each individual state and a viewable ranking table ranking states according to total tax. Downloadable spreadsheet of the U.S. and state summary tables and a flat data file providing detailed tax item data for each of the 50 state governments.

USES

The U.S. Congress, federal agencies, state and local governments, educational and research organizations, and the general public employ these results. Some major uses include the following:

  • Development of the government component of the gross domestic product estimates
  • Development of the national income accounts
  • Tax policy research

SPECIAL FEATURES

Provides current and nationally consistent data on state tax revenues, an important indicator of the fiscal condition of state governments.

PURPOSE

To provide estimates of state and local government tax revenues. The United States Code, Title 13, authorizes this data collection and provides for voluntary responses.

COVERAGE

The universe for this survey is all state governments, all local governmet property tax collectors and local government non-property tax collectors. All state government tax collection is covered. Although there is coverage error for the property tax collectors, it is believed to be small. The non-property tax collection is not completely covered. Currently, the Census Bureau is redesigning the entire survey with special emphasis on the non-property tax collection portion.

CONTENT

Government tax authorities report tax revenues by type of tax. Most local governments report only property tax collections and some report significant non-property revenues such as income and sales taxes. State governments report data for more than 25 types of taxes including personal income, sales, corporate income, motor fuel sales, motor vehicle license, death, and gift taxes.

FREQUENCY

Data are reported for tax collections during the preceding calendar quarter. Data collection begins during the 1st month after each quarter and continues for about 3 months. Data collection is quarterly since 1962, however information was not released for the 3rd quarter 1992 thorugh the 2nd quarter 1993. Historical aggregate data covering the unpublished quarters are available in the 3rd quarter 1993 publication in tables 1-3.

METHODS

Data on property taxes are collected from a mail-out/mail-back survey of about 5,400 selected local property tax collection agencies. Property taxes of local governments are estimated from a probability sample of county areas selected using a startified sample procedure. A compilation of data from mail-out/mail-back data collection of all 50 states yields data on state government tax collections. A nonprobability sample of 111 local governments with significant non-property tax collections yields the local government data on non-property tax collections.

The more than 3,100 county areas are stratified by population, and 592 areas are selected in the sample. All local tax collectors in county areas with population exceeding 200,000, and all cities and counties with quarterly tax revenue exceeding $60 million are selected with certainty. A random sample is taken within each remaining stratum. Within each selected county area, all local property tax authorities receive a form, with the number of tax authorities in an area ranging from one to hundreds. Samples of local governments are re-selected every 5 years; the latest sample was drawn in 1997.

National estimates are a summation of state and weighted local government property tax data based on survey results. Imputation of non-property tax collections in smaller local governments is based on data collected from the annual finance survey.

PRODUCTS

Quarterly Summary of State and Local Government Tax Revenue reports are released 3 months after each quarterly reference period. The reports contain national totals by type of tax with historical comparisons and state totals for major taxes in the state governments. Revisions to historical data reflect the replacement of estimates with actual totals and all data become final after two years.

USES

The Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Federal Reserve Board use the data for econometric models of the economy.

State and local governments use the data for trend analysis in various types of taxes and for regional comparisons. Business and financial market analysts follow tax trends through these data.

SPECIAL FEATURES

Provides the most current and comprehensive source of data available on state and local tax collections, and an important indicator of the direction of government finances.

RELATED PROGRAMS

Economic Census

State Government Tax Collections Survey

Annual Survey of State and Local Government Finances


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