Despite some wobbling last fall and winter, sales-tax receipts distributed by the state government to Arlington County coffers in the fiscal year ending June 30 were higher – if ever so slightly – than a year before, according to new figures.
The county government received $39.68 million in sales-tax disbursements in fiscal 2016, according to figures from the Arlington County treasurer’s office. That’s up about 0.2 percent from the $39.61 million in local sales tax generated by retail sales a year before.
The fiscal year, which began in July 2015, started strong, with a year-over-year increase of about $94,300 during its first three months. But second- and third-quarter figures were down by $159,600 and $199,100, respectively.
“The unaudited numbers for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016 seem to pull us back ahead of fiscal 2015 for the year,” Arlington Treasurer Carla de la Pava said.
Indeed: The $9.92 million in tax receipts received for the April-May-June 2016 time frame represent an increase of 3.6 percent over the same period in 2015.
(Distributions from the state government to localities represent taxes on sales that occurred two months prior.)
Arlington Commission of Revenue Ingrid Morroy, whose office does audits of the tax receipts, said “a lot of factors” could affect figures up or down. Two over the past year that helped to hold back growth were an exodus of businesses from Ballston Common Mall as it prepared for renovation, and the January 2016 blizzard that had no comparable event a year before.
Because the audit of fourth-quarter figures has not been completed, the final fiscal-year totals could change slightly when a final report is issued.
Until 2010, localities in Northern Virginia merely accepted the funds that the state government provided, without checking on accuracy.
That year, “we noticed that more than $4.5 million had been credited to surrounding localities instead of Arlington,” Morroy said, providing an incentive to look more closely at the numbers.
“We continue to perform these audits,” Morroy said. “Currently, the errors are much smaller – less than $100,000 annually – because we make sure that businesses use the correct locality code for Arlington and neighboring jurisdictions.”