Our HeadLines e-news service provides HdL clients with the most up-to-date information on trends affecting the economy and is meant to provide you with insight and support in your budget preparation and economic planning. 



Monthly Retail Sales from the US Commerce Department

Overall June retail sales among the sectors covered by Retail Dive, using U.S. Commerce Department numbers, rose 11% year over year. The bounce reflects some pent-up demand, with consumer sentiment and spending power propped up by the government’s pandemic-related support checks and unemployment payments. E-commerce soared 36% to $80 billion, as shoppers’ interest in returning to stores remains muted. But the gains did little to mend the frayed nerves of many analysts, who note that, with the COVID-19 outbreak gaining strength in many areas of the U.S., retail’s near-term prospects, less than six months from the holiday season, remain cloudy. Read More


States Grappling With Hit to Tax Collections

COVID-19 has triggered a severe state budget crisis. While the full magnitude of this crisis is not yet clear, state revenues are declining precipitously and costs are rising sharply with many businesses closed and tens of millions of people newly unemployed. Due to the economy’s rapid decline, official state revenue projections generally do not yet fully reflect the unprecedented fiscal impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In many cases, states do not even know how much their revenues have already fallen, in part because they’ve extended deadlines for filing sales and income tax payments that otherwise would have been due in recent months. Read More


Macy's, JC Penney Numbers Show How Tough Recovery May Be

New financial reports from both Macy’s and JC Penney show that while consumers may be shopping a little more enthusiastically, mainstream brick-and-mortar stores face a comeback trail even more challenging than first thought. Not that anyone thought it would be easy. But a J.C. Penney filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission reveals the company’s first-quarter revenues sank to $1.08 billion in the first quarter, compared with $2.44 billion in the comparable period of 2019. And its net loss ballooned to $546 million, compared with a loss of $154 million in the year-ago period. Read More


Shoppers Across the Country are Retreating Again as Coronavirus Cases Surge

Just as shoppers were beginning to inch back to stores, with local economies reopening and malls turning their lights back on, retail traffic declines are accelerating yet again, according to a report. Retail traffic in the U.S. was down the most so far in 2020, on a year-over-year basis, during the week ended April 18, according to data from the retail consultancy ShopperTrak. It fell 82.6%. From then until the past 14 days, there were slight improvements. But over the past two weeks, retail traffic declines have accelerated once more, as COVID-19 cases surge nationwide. Read More


Retail Imports Improving Slightly, but Still Far Below Last Year

Imports at major U.S. retail container ports are expected to remain significantly below last year’s levels into this fall as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates. “Economic indicators show that the recession brought on by the pandemic may be easing, but retailers are being conservative with the amount of merchandise they import this year,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. Read More


Back-to-School Spending Could Hit a Record as Parents Buy Costly Technology for Kids at Home

Parents may not yet know whether their children will be sitting in a classroom, or at the dining room table, when classes resume later this year. But after many schools were forced shut by the coronavirus pandemic in the spring, they’re undoubtedly looking at back-to-school supplies a bit differently in 2020. The result of the shift: Spending is predicted to hit a record this back-to-school season, as parents stock up on expensive technology like laptops, tablets and headphones. Overall back-to-school spending is expected to hit $33.9 billion, up from $26.2 billion in 2019 and breaking a prior record of $30.3 billion in 2012, the survey said.  Read More



Deadline to File State Taxes in Alabama is Wednesday, July 15

The Alabama Department of Revenue stated taxpayers need to file their taxes by Wednesday, July 15, to avoid penalties and late fees. Since the Taxpayer Service Centers and Gordon Persons Building in Montgomery remain closed, all business needs to be done either online, by phone, or through the mail. Electronic tax filers can visit the Alabama tax website and not only file online, but can also pay any liability using an electronic check.  Read More


Covid-19's Impact Felt on Gas Tax Revenue in Alabama

Reduced driving during the month of April put a dent in Alabama’s gas tax collections. Alabama County Commission Association Director Sonny Brasfield says gas tax distributions were down 25 percent from March to April. “That’s a substantial decrease in revenue if you carry that forward for the remaining months in this fiscal year but we don’t believe that’s how things will play out,” said Brasfield.  Read More


Diapers and Clothing Among Items Included in Alabama’s Sales Tax Holiday

A number of items will be exempt from the state’s sales tax. Many counties and municipalities will also be participating and waving sales taxes. While traditional school supplies under $50 like book bags, paper, and writing utensils are exempt, there are also many everyday items on the list. The Alabama Department of Revenue has the complete list of tax-exempt items and participating counties and cities.  Read More



Georgia’s June Net Tax Revenue Down 8.8% From a Year Ago

Georgia’s June net tax revenue was down 8.8% from the same time period last year. That’s according to a news release from Governor Brian Kemp’s Office Friday, which said the state’s net tax collections approached $1.94 billion, a decrease of $187 million from June 2019. Net tax collections for FY 2020 currently total almost $22.75 billion, which reflects a decrease of roughly $1.04 billion, or -4.4 percent, compared to the previous fiscal year.   Read More


Georgia Senate Greenlights Closer Audits of Generous Film Tax Credits

A film tax credit program that has attracted TV and movie productions to the state over the past 15 years could soon feel a bright spotlight on its books. The program offers production companies up to a 30% tax credit if they spend $500,000 or more in Georgia and include a Peach logo in their work. If the bill is approved, producers would also be subject to an audit to ensure production spending occurred in Georgia.  Read More


Georgia Legislature Approves Imposing 7% Tax on Vaping Products

A bill that would impose a 7% excise tax on vaping products sold in Georgia now sits on the governor’s desk. The bill would allow only adults aged 21 and older to purchase vaping products in Georgia. State Representative Bonnie Rich's portion of the bill requires any seller of vape products in Georgia to have a license from the Department of Revenue.  Read More



Texas Sees Sharp Decline in Tax Revenue as Coronavirus Surge Unleashes More Budget Uncertainty

A surge in Coronavirus cases threatens to arrest the country’s early economic recovery, leaving Texas staring down another round of massive revenue losses that could imperil its budgets. Texas witnessed a $650 million drop in tax revenue collected in June. Leaders attributed the decline to consumers shelling out less for cars, gasoline, alcohol and other goods, as well as precipitous drops in travel and tourism, compared with the same period a year earlier.  Read More


Comptroller Glenn Hegar Distributes $744.2 Million in Monthly Sales Tax Revenue to Local Governments

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced today he will send cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts $744.2 million in local sales tax allocations for July, 2.6 percent less than in July 2019. These allocations are based on sales made in May by businesses that report tax monthly. Widespread social distancing requirements were relaxed across much of the state in May, thus year-over-year declines were not as steep as they were last month.  Read More


How COVID-19, Oil Market Crash Are Hurting Texas State Finances

Tom Currah, Chief Revenue Estimator with the Texas Comptroller's Office stated "sales tax is about 57% of our tax revenue and it was down 6.5% in June this year compared to June of last year. Sales tax revenue is being buoyed online sales. Our other tax revenues, such as alcohol and motor fuel taxes, have been more directly impacted by COVID-19. We're also getting hit in our severance taxes by the steep declines in oil prices and are seeing declines in production associated with that.  Read More


Georgetown’s May Sales Tax Revenue Defies Projections

Georgetown reopened nonessential businesses to varying degrees in May, bringing a stalled economy back to life. According to data released July 8 by the Texas comptroller of public accounts, Georgetown saw an 11.64% increase in sales tax revenue generated in May. City officials had initially projected to see an 8% decrease in May. The total revenue generated was $2,592,904, per the report. In May 2019, sales tax revenue was $2,322,611.  Read More


Sugar Land Takes Steps to Maximize Flexibility for Budget Season During Coronavirus Pandemic

Sugar Land will have additional flexibility when planning its fiscal year 2020-21 budget due to a recent passage of a resolution that will calculate the city’s voter approval tax rate by using an 8% threshold for new revenue instead of 3.5% due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The city has experienced effects on its sales tax, mixed-beverage tax, court fines, hotel occupancy tax and other charges for services since the pandemic began, in addition to other incurred expenses.  Read More


Podcast: Elected Officials and Staff Relationships

In his podcast "Leaders In Local Government," HdL consultant Stephen Morris interviews Mike Conduff, President and CEO of The Elim Group. Mike has more than 40 years of leadership, management and governance experience. A multiple-time best-selling author, he’s considered one of the country’s leading experts in the field of municipal and not-for-profit governance. Listen Here


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