Sales Tax Collections Kept Climbing During Pandemic In Some Rural Counties

Jun 26, 2020

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County governments are nervous about the loss of sales tax revenues brought on the downturn in the economy brought on by the COVID crisis. The Wisconsin Counties Association has a report that shows a dip in sales tax revenue but also a surpising twist that involves counties in this region.

Forward Analytics is the research division of the Association.

Spokesperson Dale Knapp says taxable sales in Wisconsin declined 10 percent overall in March and April compared to the same months in 2019. But in some places in rural Wisconsin it was opposite...

"We actually saw 14 counties that had taxable sales that were higher in March and April this year than the year before, which surprised me a lot. We're not sure, exactly, what to make of it..."

Knapp thinks one explanation is those counties are near larger communities and he thinks the local population go there for goods and services. Langlade, Price and Taylor saw that statistical anomaly.

Elsewhere, sales were off about four percent in Oneida and Vilas counties, Lincoln and Forest counties about 3 percent, Iron county 14 percent.

Knapp says online retailing was up 66 percent over the same period in 2019....

"Are people that have been going online now going to come back in the same numbers to those retailers?"

Knapp said home project stores did very well in March and April.