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NASHVILLE — Tennessee government's overall tax collections in July fell slightly short of budget estimates, but the state nonetheless still wrapped up Fiscal Year 2018-2019 with a $600 million-plus surplus.

Finance Commissioner Stuart McWhorter says while total revenues for the month rose $44.3 million over last year, the total $1.2 billion collected was nonetheless $13.1 million below July's budgeted estimates.

It was a similar situation for the state's general fund which supports most functions of Tennessee government except for a few areas including transportation spending. Budgeted estimates fell $9.2 million below July estimates. Four other funds collectively underperformed estimates by $3.9 million.

On an accrual basis, July is the final month in the state's 2018-2019 fiscal year.

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Stuart McWhorter

Sales tax collections, the main source of funding for Tennessee's general fund, slowed down in July from last year's hot pace but remained "slightly higher" than this year's monthly estimate, McWhorter said.

Collections of sales taxes in July were $6.1 million higher than estimates, up 3.04% compared to July 2018. July sales tax revenues reflect retail business activity that occurred in June.

For the entire year, though, sales tax revenues were up $297.8 million higher than the state banked on. The annual growth rate was 5.55%.

But corporate franchise and excise taxes "underperformed in July" as did "all other tax revenue combined," the commissioner added.

Corporate tax revenues combined were $12.7 million less than budgeted for last month. Still, July's growth rate was 19.42% over last year. And for the entire fiscal year, franchise and excise tax revenues were $217.1 million more than estimates with a growth rate of 7.59%.

Despite falling short on July collections, the state still finished FY 2019 with annual revenues soaring high over projections. Total revenues grew by 5.46% over FY 2018 — a whopping $636.1 million more than the established budgeted estimate.

Earlier this spring, state lawmakers recognized $161 million of that. So total state revenues technically finished $475.1 million more than revised total revenue estimates.

Tennessee's general fund, meanwhile, outperformed original budget estimates by $580.4 million or $461.3 million after adjusting for legislative revisions.

Year-over-year gasoline and motor fuel revenues for July increased by 3.9%. But they were $6.8 million shy of the $106.6 million budgeted. For the year, revenues fell short of estimates by $1.9 million.

Motor vehicle registration revenues came in $400,000 over July estimate and were $27.2 million over estimates for the year.

Tobacco tax revenues fell $5 million below July budgeted estimates of $22.3 million. For the year, sales of tobacco products were $9.5 million less than the state expected.

Hall Income Tax collections in July were up $1.4 million over the budgeted estimate. For the year, revenues are $45.1 million more than the budgeted estimate.

Privilege tax revenues were up $700,000 more than the monthly estimate. And from August through July, are $11.7 million over estimates.

Business tax revenues were $1 million more than the monthly estimate and are up $24 million over the fiscal year's budgeted estimate.

Contact Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550. Follow on Twitter @AndySher1.

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