- Associated Press - Thursday, July 23, 2015

BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts finished the 2015 fiscal year on a strong note.

Tax revenues for the year that ended in June were nearly 6 percent higher than the previous fiscal year collections, according to state revenue officials. Revenues also beat predictions for the year by about $391 million.

Department of Revenue Commissioner Mark Nunnelly announced Thursday that fiscal 2015 collections totaled more than $24.7 billion, or about $1.35 billion higher than the prior fiscal year.

For June - the final month of the fiscal year - collections were almost $2.66 billion. That’s an increase of $127 million, or 5 percent, compared to June of last year, and $4 million above the monthly estimate.

“The better than expected revenue performance in fiscal year 2015 is due to greater than anticipated income tax payments, which were only partially offset by lower than expected sales and use tax collections,” Nunnelly said in a statement announcing the year-end numbers.

Nunnelly said the annual revenue performance “reflects a strong state labor market and increased investment-related income, including capital gains, interest and dividend income.”

He pointed to some of the 2015 fiscal year highlights:

- Income tax collections totaled $14.37 billion, about $419 million more than anticipated;

- Withholding collections totaled $11.06 billion, up $555 million, or 5.3 percent, from the same period last year, and about $75 million above what was expected for the year.

- Sales tax collections totaled $5.77 billion, up $278 million, or 5.1 percent, from the same period last year, but $53 million below what was anticipated for the full year.

- Corporate and business tax collections (not counting one-time tax settlements) totaled $2.42 billion - $91 million, or 3.6 percent less than the prior fiscal year but $8 million above the full year estimate.

Nunnelly said another factor affecting the revenue picture included the suspension of the legal requirement that any tax revenue the state collects from capital gains exceeding $1.05 billion and any settlement over $10 million must be transferred to the state’s stabilization fund, also known as the “rainy day” fund.

The requirement was suspended by lawmakers and Gov. Charlie Baker earlier this year.

Massachusetts collected about $1.67 billion in capital gains tax during the past fiscal year, freeing up more money to deal with a budget gap. Baker has proposed a $50 million deposit into the rainy day fund. Also, state revenue officials and the attorney general’s office this month certified that tax-related settlement and judgment payments for the 2015 fiscal year totaled $214.7 million.

State lawmakers also approved two tax amnesty programs during the 2015 fiscal year to help encourage tax scofflaws to pay up without facing penalties. The first amnesty program - from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31 - generated $69.1 million tax collections, nearly double the estimate of $35 million. The second amnesty - from March 16 to May 15 - resulted in collections of about $16 million, $2 million shy of an $18 million estimate.

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