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Taxes indicate economy is improving

By Kay Bell ·
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Posted: 4 pm ET

Is the U.S. economy back? Judging from the latest state and local tax data, it is.

And the housing market appears to be leading the way.

The U.S. Census Bureau this week released its tax collection figures for the fourth quarter of 2013, and they are up over 2012.

State and local government tax revenues from property, individual income, corporate income and general sales tax collections were almost $201 billion in the last quarter of 2013.

That's a 3.4 percent increase from the $194.3 billion reported in overall tax collections in the final quarter of 2012.

Property taxes lead the way

The largest increase came from property taxes. In the fourth quarter of 2013, states and localities raked in almost $182.8 billion in property taxes. That's almost 3 percent more than the $177.7 billion collected in 2012's last three months.

The 2013 property tax amount marks the first time since the final quarter of 2009 that the sector broke the $180 million mark. Five years ago, the Census Bureau reported quarterly property tax revenue of $182.5 billion.

While some states, counties and cities collect personal property taxes, the bulk of property taxes comes from real estate. (You can find your state's property tax position in Bankrate's state tax directory.) The Census data reveal that after three years of leveling off, housing values upon which taxes are based are heading back up.

Income, sales tax collection up, too

On the income side, individual income tax revenue continued to grow compared with the prior year's quarter. State and local governments collected $77.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013. That was an increase of 1 percent from the $76.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The Census data also indicate that we spent the money we had left after paying our state and local income taxes.

General sales and gross receipts tax revenue rose 3.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 to $82.6 billion. That same quarter in 2012, the tax take in this sector was $79.8 billion.

Tax revenues may be up, but here are eight tax breaks that cost Uncle Sam big money.

More tax info from Bankrate

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Veteran contributing editor Kay Bell is the author of the book "The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes" and co-author of the e-book "Future Millionaires' Guidebook."

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March 28, 2014 at 12:52 am


March 28, 2014 at 12:50 am


March 27, 2014 at 8:33 pm

Good news? Now the President can raise the debt limit again! Has anyone in the Fed checked to see if all taxpayer paid employees have not filed their taxes, past and present? Of course I am including all IRS employees, Representatives and Senators and White House employees.

March 27, 2014 at 8:33 pm

It's because of redistribution of wealth. Our wealth to the government.

March 27, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Well sure they are higher than 2012 taxes we had a tax increase. Someone needs to go back and come up with a better BS story.