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Census: State, local government tax collection hit all-time high

By   /   July 25, 2013  /   No Comments

By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent

HARRISBURG — Local and state governments are collecting more tax money from individuals and businesses than ever.

The U.S. Census Bureau released Wednesday its State and Local Government Finance Summary, examining fiscal 2011 numbers. State and local governments collected a record-breaking $3.4 trillion in revenue from all sources that year.

From that figure, $2.6 trillion is considered “general revenue,” which includes a record-high$1.3 trillion in tax collections.

BREAKING IT DOWN: This chart breaks down where state and local governments got their $2.6 trillion worth of revenue in 2011.

According to the census report, several of these indicators are signs of improvement for state and local government finance, in other words, more evidence of a slowly recovering economy.

It also means more money from taxpayers — individual income tax revenue collections went up by 9.5 percent to $284 billion in 2011. Corporate income taxes increased 10.7 percent, to $48.5 billion.

“Tax revenue increased in 2011 for the first time in 2 years, led by gains in sales and gross receipt taxes and individual income taxes,” the report noted. “Additionally, unemployment compensation declined for the first time in 4 years.”

The overall revenue boost also came from gains in insurance trust revenue, which includes pension funds and programs such as unemployment compensation and Social Security. That revenue grew by nearly 30 percent, from $512.8 billion in 2010 to $663.6 billion in 2011, marking a second straight year of increases.

The report took a broad look at how much government was spending in particular areas.

In 2011, Pennsylvania state and local governments spent $35.4 billion on education. That’s about 26.6 percent of all state and local government expenditures in the state, at $132.8 billion that year.

Nationwide, the average education share was 27.2 percent. This chart shows how Pennsylvania measures up (click to enlarge):

US census edu spending percentage map


Fast forward a couple of years and other census data analyzing the first quarter of 2013 data shows tax collection is still reaching new heights in Pennsylvania. First quarter total tax collection was $10.04 billion, the first time collections reached 11 figures. First-quarter tax collections the year before equaled $9.8 billion.

This chart shows how much the state and its local governments have collected per quarter in the past decade. The total includes both state and local taxes, including property taxes.

pa census quarterly summary 10 year

Contact Melissa Daniels at [email protected]


Melissa formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.