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The Department of Revenue today released revenue numbers for May. The monthly collection of $1.506 billion was $56 million below benchmark and $68 million less than a year ago.

This was the kind of month that proves the old adage, what goes up must come down. Given that April revenue was $587 million over benchmark, it was hardly shocking to see May revenue take a bit of a tumble.

As Commissioner Navjeet K. Bal pointed out, return processing in April was exceptionally speedy, leaving fewer envelopes to open and fewer checks to deposit in May. In addition, it turned out that some of the withholding income that DOR expected to collect in May came in during April. 

If you look at filing season as a two-month proposition covering April and May, which is good way to look at it since those are the months in which income tax collections are received and counted, the Commonwealth finished more than $500 million above the combined monthly benchmarks.

Year to date, the Commonwealth has collected $1.859 billion more than a year ago. That is a clear sign of economic — and tax collection — recovery.

Other states, while not seeing increases as dramatic as that seen in Massachusetts, are recording a rise in revenue. The National Governors Association reported this week that a revenue recovery is underway, but that most states still have a ways to go to reach the level of revenue collected in 2008.

That holds true for Massachusetts as well, since this year's collection (currently $18.366 billion) will fall short of the FT2008 collection of $20.888 billion with just one month to go before the end of FY11. June is historically a large month for collections due to receipt of estimated payments, but it would have to be a monster for FY11to top the FY2008 collection.

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