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Georgia revenue department says 2023 collections exceeded 2022

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(The Center Square) — A new report from the Georgia Department of Revenue found that the state’s revenue collections in 2023 “remained steady” compared to 2022, and state officials saw increased fraudulent claims amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, the state Department of Revenue said it processed more than 9.3 million returns, up from nearly 8.9 million in 2022. The agency also said it collected $33.1 billion in tax revenue in fiscal 2023, a 0.1% increase from fiscal 2022.

More than $16.9 billion in individual income tax collections represented more than 51% of the state’s net revenue collections. The agency also issued almost $2.9 billion in individual income tax refunds.

“Due to the resilience of Georgia’s economy and the fiscally responsible decisions of policymakers, tax collections remained at an all-time high even as tax cuts and refunds were delivered for hardworking Georgians,” State Revenue Commissioner Frank O’Connell said in an announcement.

Outside of taxes, the agency said it maintained the registration records of 10.6 million motor vehicles and conducted 12,621 alcohol and tobacco investigations.

On the tax compliance front, the agency said it conducted 74,830 audits. It found two-thirds of those audited were out of compliance.

In fiscal 2022, the agency said it prevented more than $1 billion in fraudulent payments, up from $93.9 million in fiscal 2021. The number dropped to nearly $909.3 million in fiscal 2023.

According to the report, the increase in blocked fraudulent refunds between fiscal 2021 and fiscal 2022 mainly resulted from COVID-19, Department of Labor fraud and identity theft. The increase in fiscal 2023 stemmed from “several attempts to receive large fraudulent refunds,” which state officials blocked.

The report comes amid discussions of eliminating the state’s income tax and lower monthly tax collections.

“Georgia’s revenue collections are on track to once again surpass estimates for FY 2024, marking the fourth consecutive year of significant surpluses,” Staci Fox, president and CEO of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, said in a statement to The Center Square. “Despite having these resources on hand, the state continues to maintain a record imbalance between revenue generated and appropriations allocated to meet the needs of our residents.

“This presents a historic opportunity for our leaders to address chronic underfunding in core areas such as health care, education, and human services and to tackle glaring gaps in child care support. By doing so, we can ensure our economy is positioned to thrive in the future.

Fox mentioned a GBPI report that outlined strategies for utilizing unobligated funds to better serve Georgians.

“While the state has increased investments in child care, student transportation and pay raises, these efforts fall short of what is necessary to fully and equitably address the state’s needs,” Fox said. “We call on the state to release the unspent public dollars that currently exceed the $5.4 billion Revenue Shortfall Reserve and incorporate these funds into the regular appropriations process.

“Georgia remains without statutory guardrails to govern the use of surplus funds above the limit set for the Revenue Shortfall Reserve — which means that approximately $11 billion is held outside of the traditional fiscal process.”

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