The state Council on Revenues today lowered the revenue forecast for the fiscal year, not because of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan or the unrest in Africa and the Middle East, but because of an unusual drop in tax collections in February.
The state collected about $315 million in February, substantially less than economists anticipated.
While the drop could be an anomaly, it could also mean the economy is not recovering as fast as economists believed.
Pearl Iboshi, an economist, and others on the council found the February figure hard to believe. She had a theory for the state Department of Taxation. “Is there a chance that there’s, uh, you know, lots of …”
“A drawer there with a bunch of checks in it?” University of Hawaii-Manoa economist Carl Bonham said.
“Yes, lots of checks,” Iboshi said.
“That somebody forgot to open because everything slowed down?” Bonham said.
A state Department of Taxation staffer slowly nodded her head.
“There is a chance of that?” Jack Suyderhoud, a University of Hawaii-Manoa business economics professor, asked the staffer. “Is that why you’re going like that?”
“That’s not saying yes, but …” Bonham said.