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DiNapoli: Sales tax revenue continues to drop, but losses are easing

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli at Clinton G Martin

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli at Clinton G Martin Park in New Hyde Park on Jan. 6, 2019. Credit: Jeff Bachner

ALBANY — Sales tax revenue, a major funder of local governments, dropped nearly 8% in August from a year ago because of the economic shutdown forced by the COVID-19 virus, but the monthly losses are easing statewide and on Long Island, according to state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

For taxpayers, lower sales tax revenue means governments have to put a greater reliance on local property taxes, which on Long Island are already among the highest in the nation.

Suffolk County saw an 8.6% reduction in sales tax revenue in August compared to August 2019. That’s a $10.8 million drop.

Nassau County saw an 8.4% decline in sales tax revenue from August compared with August 2019, or $8.3 million less.

Statewide, sales tax collections were down 7.8 in August compared with August 2019. That’s an improvement from July, when statewide sales tax revenue had dropped 8.2% compared with July 2019. The trend reflects the gradual reopening of the economy after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in March shut down most businesses to try to reduce the rapid rise in infections and deaths from the virus.

June’s year-to-year drop in revenue statewide was 25.4%, the drop in May was 32.3% and the drop in April was 24.4% statewide.

In Nassau County, sales tax revenue dropped 10.4% from January to August compared with the same period last year. That’s a loss of $82.4 million.

For Suffolk County, sales tax revenue dropped 9.5% from January to August — a loss of $92.6 million.

From March through August, all local governments statewide received $1.5 billion less than they did during the same six-month period in 2019.

"Since the pandemic hit, local governments have seen a massive drop in sales tax collections," DiNapoli said. "This is hurting their bottom lines and many have few options to plug the hole."

He said New York needs federal aid "to weather this storm." But the prospect of the billions of dollars more in federal aid are uncertain in Washington.

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