State Representative Joe Armstrong says he's looking forward to addressing the allegations that he schemed to turn a profit from the state hiking the cigarette tax in 2007. His accountant, who "ran" the money through his company, had agreed to a plea deal. More from the Nashville Post on what the accountant says happened.
As the governor plans his trip to talk about gas tax, Americans for Prosperity are planning their own sojourn to argue against an increase:
Haslam appeared undaunted that the group that helped defeat Insure Tennessee is once again lining up against him on the gas tax.
“Have at it,” the governor said. “That’s how democracy works.”
Nearing the end of state government’s fiscal year, Tennessee has collected nearly one half billion dollars more than expected, according to state officials.
Revenues totaled $974 million for May, when $50.5 million more than expected pouring into state coffers. Overall, the state has collected $495 million more than anticipated in the first 10 months of the budget year, with $452 million overcollected for the general fund, according to the Department of Finance and Administration.
“May collections recorded significant gains in sales tax revenues as well as corporate tax payments,” said Larry Martin, commissioner of the department, in a press release. “All other taxes, in total, showed marked improvement over collections of one year ago and were more than the budgeted estimates for May.”
The state collected $20.5 million extra in sales tax last month, a growth rate of about 9 percent, according to the agency. Franchise and excise taxes combined totaled $16 million more than the $50 million the state expected.
The only major taxes that came in below expectations last month were the inheritance and estate tax and the tobacco tax, which fell about $1 million and $500,000 short, respectively.
Tennessee government collected $90 million more than it expected to last month largely thanks to growth in franchise and excise taxes which help make up the "bread and butter" of the state's revenues, said the state Office of Finance and Administration.
“The significant improvement in April taxes reflects an increase primarily in franchise and excise taxes, and we also saw moderate growth in sales tax receipts which indicates increased consumer confidence,” said Larry Martin, Finance and Administration commissioner.
Combined, franchise and excise tax collections amounted to $73.3 million more than the state’s budgeted estimate, for a growth rate of more than 12 percent over last year. Accounting for an unexpected dip in revenues last year due to two one-time tax payments, franchise and excise taxes are up about 10 percent over last year.
Sales taxes climbed $12.2 million above expectations and 5.6 percent over this time last year. Other taxes topping expectations last month include privilege taxes, Hall income taxes and tobacco taxes. Inheritance and estate tax collections, business taxes, gasoline and motor fuel collections all fell below expectations.
Year to date nine months into the fiscal year, state revenues are $444 million more than anticipated.
A team of reporters from McClatchy has taken a deep dive into the practice at many construction companies of treating workers as independent contractors and, thus, denying them benefits and protections and costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year. Their full package is available here, but local readers will be particularly interested in the story centered on Nashville-based Southern Mechanical, which pulled in $15 million in 2012 revenues — much of it from government-backed affordable housing work.
Southern Mechanical has regularly been called to account for tax-related transgressions because it has not properly classified workers. But in other cases, the McClatchy reporters say, regulators appear to have simply not paid attention or followed through.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is ultimately responsible for employees being paid correctly on these projects, but it pushes the task of collecting and reviewing payrolls onto local officials. HUD doesn’t train the locals to spot the problem of misclassifying workers as contractors, however. Even when HUD labor-compliance officials at the regional office in Atlanta reviewed Southern Mechanical’s records on projects insured by the Federal Housing Administration, they didn’t raise any issues.
Southern Mechanical’s controller said she took the lack of reprimands as a sign the company was doing things properly.
“I’m sure if there was an issue, especially with a HUD job, somebody would have caught it before now,” Shannon Wilkins said.
The construction of affordable housing units in Tennessee could be in for a major overhaul if a recent trend in the taxation of such properties takes hold. Developers say assessors have been increasingly adding in federal tax credits when figuring out tax bills, which has made for some nasty surprises and could lead to legislative action in 2015. Bobby Allyn at WPLN has more from a panel discussion last week.
“It’s only been a very, very recent situation,” said low-income property developer Phil Lawson, who sat in on a panel discussion Thursday organized by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. “It’s not like people are gonna say ‘OK, I now understand this, so I guess I need to anticipate the fact that I’m creating a project that’s going to lose money every year.’ Developers won’t do it, and investors won’t buy into it and lenders won’t lend on it.”
POSTDATA: WARRANTY DEEDS