Kansas collected $47 million less than anticipated in January, meaning the state could face even more spending cuts.
The Department of Revenue reported that sooner-than-expected income tax refunds were partly to blame for the sudden money shortage. The federal government processed tax returns more quickly than last year.
According to Fox, department spokeswoman Jeannine Koranda said the state waits on the federal government to process each set of returns first, so faster federal processing means more state refunds earlier. However, the refunds could “even out” later.
The state legislature is working to eliminate a projected $279 million shortfall. If lawmakers cannot pass a budget-balancing bill by Feb, 13, the state may not be able to pay its bills.
The budget gap arose after Republican law makers aggressively cut personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013, but the tax returns have aggravated the issue.
Gov. Sam Brownback has proposed selected cuts, but his budget plan relies on diverting funds from highway projects and special funds into the state's main bank account, where the projected deficit might happen.
"We are glad that Kansas taxpayers are getting their refund checks earlier than last year," Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan said. "Unfortunately, that negatively affects our tax receipts for this month.”
The Department of Revenue said it issued income tax refunds totaling $30 million to about 65,000 people in January, compared with $8 million in refunds to about 13,000 people in January last year.