California eyes income tax revenues in key April period

SAN FRANCISCO, April 11 Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:10pm EDT

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SAN FRANCISCO, April 11 (Reuters) - California needs about another $6.3 billion in revenue from personal income taxes net of refunds this month to stay on track with revenue estimates in Governor Jerry Brown's state budget plan, its budget watchdog agency said in a report on Thursday.

So far this month California has collected about $2.2 billion in revenue from personal income taxes, net of refunds, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office.

April is the most important month for collecting revenue from personal income taxes in California, the most populous U.S. state.

State analysts are uncertain whether California's revenue from personal income taxes, a key source of its revenue, will remain on track with estimates in Brown's initial budget plan, which projects the state budget can swing to surplus in its next fiscal year after years of deficits.

That outlook depends on the economy strengthening, new revenue coming from income and sales tax increases approved by voters in November and lawmakers agreeing with Brown's plan to restrain spending.

An analyst at the Legislative Analyst's Office said California's revenues this month and in March were encouraging. "So far so good," he said.

Strong inflows from personal income taxes helped lift California's overall revenue in March by $395.5 million, or 7.2 percent, above the estimate in Brown's budget plan, State Controller John Chiang's office said on Wednesday.

California collected $64.7 billion in general fund revenue between the start of its current fiscal year in July and March, some $4.7 billion more than forecast by Brown's office, Chiang's office said.

Chiang said it was too early to tell if California's revenue gains would last as it was unclear whether they had been propelled by an improving economy or if changes in state and federal tax laws had prompted taxpayers to pay up earlier than usual.

California's leaders will by the end of the month have a better grasp on the state's revenue, which will inform a revised budget plan for the fiscal year beginning in July. Brown must give the plan to lawmakers in May.

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