A recent study from the Wisconsin Policy Forum shows state sales and use tax revenues in the first four months of 2021 were 15 percent higher than the same period of 2019.

“That growth is particularly striking given that the global pandemic caused sales tax revenues in Wisconsin to decline during that period last year,” report authors wrote.

Total state sales tax revenues hit $1.84 billion for the period between January and April of this year, which is the most recent time period for which the information is available. For the same period of 2019, that number was $1.6 billion, according to the report.

By comparison, state sales tax revenues between January and April of 2020 were $1.58 billion, which is 1.4 percent lower than the same period of 2019.

In the latest estimate of state revenues for the 2021 fiscal year from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, sales tax collections are projected to rise even more. The WPF report details how growing retail sales are driving those revenues.

The retail sector — Wisconsin’s largest commercial sector — makes up over half all sales tax revenues in the state. From January to April 2021, revenues exceeded $236 million, which increased by 32 percent from the same time period in 2019.

Meanwhile, online shopping tax revenues increased 143 percent in Wisconsin over the same period, according to the study.

The sale collection trends “reflect an economy that has been growing rapidly as the COVID-19 pandemic has waned,” report authors said. But they added the large increase in online shopping could have “major implications” for future state and local finances.

For full study results: http://www.wisbusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/07012021-Wisconsin-Policy-Forum.pdf