Port: North Dakota's tax collections fell off a cliff in May

The North Dakota State Capitol. Forum News Service file photo
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MINOT, N.D. — Each month, North Dakota's Office of Management and Budget releases an update on general fund revenues.

These reports typically compare the latest month's collections from the state's various revenue streams to the forecast the Legislature used to budget as well as actual collections from the last budget cycle.

The June report, which was just issued today , covers the month of May, and it paints an ugly picture.

Sales tax collections, by far the largest contributor to the general fund and typically a solid indicator of economic health, were down some $27 million in the month, or 35.4%, from the Legislature's forecast. They're down nearly $18 million, or 26.4%, from the same month in the previous biennium.

Individual income tax collections were down a whopping 65.7% from the Legislature's forecast, and 60.4% from the previous biennium.


Revenues from the motor vehicle excise tax were down 34% from the forecast, and 32.4% from the previous biennium.

Corporate income tax collections did actually beat the Legislature's forecast, coming in up $574,000 over what was expected, but they're still down nearly 8% from the previous biennium.

Also, month-to-month comparisons of income tax collections can be difficult given the timing of payments.

There's a lot to be worried about here. The sales and income taxes make up the "three-legged stool" of the state's general fund revenues. When they tank, we're in trouble.

The coronavirus is going to blow a hole in North Dakota's budget.

Meanwhile, the state's legislative leadership is still resisting calls for a special session to begin proactively addressing some of these looming budget issues.

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Rob Port, founder of, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at .

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTA
Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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