Elmore County’s sales tax revenue is down and likely attributed to the coronavirus pandemic, but revenue is not down as much as officials predicted.

Elmore County engineer and operations officer Richie Beyer received the latest sales tax report for the county which revealed sales tax revenues for the year are down 0.25% compared to last year with May having a decrease of 8.57% compared to May 2019.

According to the report, in fiscal year 2019 from October to May the county collected $9,177,580 and in fiscal year 2020 from October to May the county collected $9,154,803.

So far, the county has collected $22,777 less tax money year to year.

“April and May this year as you can see are down,” Beyer said. “We expected that from a lack of shopping.”

He said the county’s analysis of the data showed tax collections increased at certain businesses while other businesses had sharp decreases.

“It was a mixed bag,” he said. “We certainly saw increases at place like Lowe’s. On the flip side, restaurant business was turned down.”

Beyer is holding out hopes the last four months of fiscal year 2020 will turn around.

“Overall, we really were pleasantly surprised the downturn was not more severe,” he said. “Looking at it from year to date we hope to see those numbers turn around and get back to a normal trend.” 

Beyer said the state’s simplified sellers use tax (SSUT) helped increase the amount of tax collections this year.

According to the Alabama Department of Revenue, from October 2019 to May the county collected $748,309.13 from SSUT.

The county collected 52% that amount, or $389,838.23, from October 2018 to May 2019.

“We certainly saw an increase in simplified seller use tax the past few months,” Beyer said. “That has offset the loss in sales tax.”

The Elmore County Commission also approved a measure to allocate 25% of SSUT taxes to the Elmore County Board of Education during the 2020 fiscal year.

Commission chairman Troy Stubbs said this is a way for the commission to help support public education in the county.

“The school system is experiencing a lot of growth and growing pains,” Stubbs said. “It’s a way for us to assist them. This is money we receive on a monthly basis from the state department of revenue.”

Stubbs said the school system will receive a check each month during fiscal year 2020.

“We look forward to seeing this continue to grow,” he said.

According to the Alabama Department of Revenue, SSUT was passed by the state in 2015 and allows eligible sellers to participate in a program to collect, report and remit a flat 8% sellers use tax on all sales made into Alabama. An eligible seller is one that sells physical items or services from an inventory or location outside the state but does not have a physical presence in the state.

As of May, Elmore County has collected a grand total of $1,963,212.35 since SSUT collections were established.