Sales tax collections rise 3.9 percent
Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn said in October that the state took in $1.16 billion dollars in sales tax in September, a 3.9 percent increase over September 2003. Strayhorn sent $326.5 million in monthly sales tax payments to Texas cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts, up 8 percent compared with October 2003. So far in 2004, local sales tax allocations are 8.2 percent ahead of 2003.
"Nine of my 10 economic indicators are positive, and we have enjoyed an increase in sales tax collections for 13 months running," Strayhorn said.
Strayhorn sent sales tax allocations of $221.9 million to Texas cities, 6.9 percent more than in October 2003. Calendar year-to-date, city sales tax rebates are up 8.1 percent. Texas counties received October sales tax rebates of $19.3 million, up 10.2 percent compared with 2003. Through September, county sales tax allocations are up 8.4 percent.
Stake a claim to lost money
Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn is holding more than $1.1 billion in unclaimed property, and she wants the rightful owners to claim it. Strayhorn published her annual Unclaimed Property List in Texas newspapers on Sunday, October 17.
"This year's Unclaimed Property List contains the names of almost 192,000 people who have lost track of more than $93 million," Strayhorn said. "These are unclaimed property owners who have been reported to the state within the last year alone. When you include the money that remains unclaimed from previous years, our total unclaimed property is $1.1 billion that belongs in the pockets of hardworking Texans."
Unclaimed property includes uncashed checks, dormant bank accounts, forgotten rent or utility deposits, unclaimed insurance proceeds and investment income, abandoned contents of safe deposit boxes and other assets that the owners have forgotten or are unaware of.
Ellis named director of communications
In September, Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn named Dick Ellis as the director of communications for the Comptroller's office.
"Dick Ellis has a long history and outstanding reputation in the news media, and I am pleased to name him director of communications," Strayhorn said. "Dick has been an active and important member of the news media for more than 34 years, and his wealth of experience will be a great asset to the people of Texas."
As director of communications, Ellis will oversee the distribution of information of public interest regarding the Comptroller's office. Most recently, Ellis was a reporter and anchor for KTBC Television in Austin. He also reported and anchored for KVUE Television in Austin, winning a number of broadcasting industry awards. Ellis also served as assistant director of the Public Information Department for the city of Austin while Strayhorn was the mayor of Austin.
"I applaud President George W. Bush for signing legislation that restores Texans' ability to deduct sales tax on their federal income tax returns for two years," said Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn in a statement released in October. "I have called for an end to the discriminatory treatment of Texas taxpayers since March 2002.
"I estimate that hard-working Texas families who itemize their sales tax deductions will now save an average of $408 on their federal income tax," Strayhorn said. "This savings will put more money in Texans' pockets and will result in more jobs in the Lone Star State. This levels the playing field for citizens and governments in the states that have chosen not to have a state income tax. Now we need to make it permanent."