Taxable sales in Nevada rose 4.8 percent in August over the same month a year ago, thanks to an amnesty reporting program, the Department of Taxation reported Tuesday.
The August report marks the second month in a row of increased sales and is welcome relief to a recession-battered state that saw double-digit declines for much of the past two years.
Merchants in August sold $3.2 billion in taxable goods, of which $149 million was reported under the amnesty program. Without that, the report said sales would have been flat compared with August 2009.
The state collected $257.2 million in gross sales and use taxes on the taxable goods, representing a 6.1 percent increase from a year ago. Nearly $12 million was collected under amnesty.
The portion that goes to the state general fund totaled $65. 3 million, 5 percent more than the same month a year ago.
About a third of the state general fund comes from sales and use taxes, and some officials project Nevada could be facing a budget deficit of up to $3 billion _ roughly half the existing budget _ for the next two-year funding cycle that begins July 1, 2011.
Both gubernatorial candidates, Democrat Rory Reid and Republican Brian Sandoval, have said they will not raise taxes, though legislative leaders and others have said increases are likely. The Legislature convenes in February.
For the first two months of the fiscal year, revenue to support the general fund is about 9 percent, or $10.8 million, It is above projections made by the Economic Forum in January before a special session was called to close an $800 million shortfall for the fiscal year that ended June 30, the report said.
Sales rose 3.8 percent in Clark County, the state's largest that includes Las Vegas, but fell 1.4 percent in Washoe County, northern Nevada's population center.
In all, 14 of Nevada's 17 counties reported higher sales in August.
Nevada's construction industry continues to suffer, with sales falling 25 percent. Nevada leads the nation in foreclosures, bankruptcies and unemployment.
Sales of autos and motor vehicle parts dropped 8.4 percent.
Industries reporting gains included telecommunications, up 55 percent; clothing and accessories, up 10.3 percent; rental and leasing, up 17 percent; and home furnishings, up 9.2 percent.
Bar and restaurant sales were up 4.6 percent statewide and 4.8 percent in Clark County, while accommodations rose 9.2 percent around the state and 10.5 percent in Clark. Those two sectors are key barometers of Nevada's tourism industry that was badly shattered when the Great Recession began three years ago.