The strength of online trade in Island County has resulted in an unexpected increase in sales tax receipts amid the pandemic, the budget manager told the commissioners last week.
The receipts, however, were tallied in November for September sales, before the resurgence of the virus and a return to restrictions.
Doug Martin, the budget manager, said sales generated in September totaled nearly $900,000, which was a 20 percent increase over the revenue received a year ago. The amount exceeded budget estimates for this year by 11 percent.
Retail trade tax by itself was 29 percent higher, or $68,000 more, than the same month a year ago.
Martin explained that sales taxes from brick-and-mortar businesses were approaching pre-pandemic levels but, not surprisingly, online sales have taken off.
In the 11 months of sales receipts ending on Nov. 31, retail trade sales tax actually grew by 16.6 percent, or $404,000, over the comparable period last year, Martin said said.
Construction sales tax in September were higher than the same month a year ago by 16.7 percent. But over the 11 month period ending Nov. 31, construction sales taxes were down by 8.6 percent, $202,000, compared to the same period the prior year.
“It’s not surprising,” Martin said. “We suffered a lot at the beginning of the year in that particular category.”
A graph of sales tax collection showed that the county only dipped below 2019 levels in May.
Three and a half months ago, Martin had predicted that total sales taxes would be down by 20 percent this year. Now he is predicting it will be 3.5 percent.