County Sales Tax Figures Show Strong Growth

The time has come, once again, to look at Door County’s sales tax figures through the first 10 months of this year and how these figures compare to recent years.

These figures derive from that half-percent sales tax Door County (and most other counties in Wisconsin) charge. Merchants, innkeepers, restaurateurs, etc. collect this tax and submit it to the state (along with the state sales tax of five percent) and the state then redistributes the county tax portion back to the appropriate county. These distributions can be found – broken down by county – on the Wisconsin Department of Revenue’s website.

One of the things that is important to keep in mind when you look at these distributions is that the total for any month reflects exactly what was collected during the previous month. Each individual merchant (or innkeeper, or restaurant owner, etc.) may have differing deadlines for when the tax is due to be paid (i.e. monthly, quarterly, etc.). Thus, comparing January 2014 to January 2013, for instance, doesn’t provide any clear indication of an individual county’s economic health.

However, looking at a broader picture of county sales tax collections can provide at least some indication of the economic health of a county.

Last year I was pleased to report an increase in Door County’s sales tax revenue of three percent. While that may seem modest, keep in mind the slow rate of growth in the national economy last year and that it represented the second consecutive growth year over year. Additionally, in a very small, largely insulated economy such as Door County’s, increases and decreases can have far-reaching implications.

Well, folks, the time has come to see how we are doing through the first nine months of 2014. As the table below shows, we are significantly up from 2013. Indeed, the $172,518.41 increase in collections translates to an impressive 6.7 percent rise. Now keep in mind that this money comes from just a one-half of one percent on taxable purchases (.005).

With this in mind you can do the math to determine how much more was spent (on taxable merchandise) was spent in Door County through October of this year. The formula (if you want to do the math with me – and please use a calculator!) is (.005)x = 172,518.41 or x = 172,518.41/.005. If your result matches mine, then you will see that a whopping $34,503,682 was spent this year compared to 2013.

When you stop to consider the winter that stretched into the spring and the rainy weather of June, September and October, these numbers are truly remarkable. With two months to go in the year it seems reasonable that we will have our best year for sales tax collections ever and the increase will easily outpace the annual cost of living increase. Let’s hope this is a trend that will continue through the winter months of 2015. And maybe it can/will if the weather will cooperate just a little bit.