Local sales tax collections across New York grew 3.3 percent in the first six months of 2017, according to a report released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Through June, local collections totaled $8 billion compared to $7.8 billion during the same period last year.
"Local sales tax growth across the state is welcome news, especially for many of our upstate communities that have struggled with tough economic conditions," DiNapoli said. "Sales tax, however, can be a volatile source of revenue and local officials must remain cautious. While consumer spending is holding up for now, the upcoming back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons may determine if this level of growth is sustainable."
DiNapoli's report revealed local sales tax collections in several regions outpaced the statewide average. The North Country (4.5 percent), Southern Tier (4.5 percent), Central New York (4.4 percent), Mohawk Valley (4.3 percent) and Finger Lakes (4 percent) regions had the highest growth rates in the state. Additionally, Long Island's growth rate (3.3 percent) far surpassed the first-half collections growth in that region last year.
At this time last year, regional sales tax revenue growth was uneven across the state, increasing 1.7 percent overall in the first six months of 2016.
Examining sales tax on a county-specific basis, the report shows collections grew in 54 of the 57 counties outside of New York City. The strongest growth was in Oswego County (16.7 percent), although much of that was due to technical adjustments in collections. The report also shows Cayuga (15.1 percent), Wyoming (12.4 percent) and Seneca (10.8 percent) counties experienced strong growth.
New York City's sales tax collections grew by $121 million (3.5 percent) in the first half of 2017. This increase accounts for nearly half (48 percent) of the total growth statewide of $256 million in local collections during the period.
Of the 17 other cities in New York that impose their own general sales tax, 14 had increases in collections. Salamanca (14.7 percent), Rome (8.8 percent) and Oswego (6.4 percent) experienced the highest percentage increase. Three cities suffered declines in collections: Norwich (7.3 percent), Saratoga Springs (5.9 percent) and White Plains (3.8 percent).
Across New York, economic factors supporting the increase in collections include continued low unemployment and high consumer confidence. Sales taxes were also boosted by growth in sales tax collections on motor fuels, particularly in the first quarter (up 19 percent compared to the same period in 2016).
To read the report, which includes a list of total collections for counties and cities, go to: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/pubs/research/local-sales-tax-growth-2017.pdf
For access to state and local government spending, public authority financial data and information on 130,000 state contracts, visit Open Book New York. The easy-to-use website was created by DiNapoli to promote transparency in government and provide taxpayers with better access to financial data.