Please see our introductory pages on payroll tax receipts for some background information on this data series.  Also our previous update (March 15th) for a discussion of 2012 potential tax receipt growth.

Note: In all that follows, "Tax Receipts" and "Tax Deposits" refer to payments deposited by employers on the basis of payroll activity, and received by the US Treasury . The deposits consist of income tax withheld from employees, plus payroll taxes (i.e. Social Security and Medicare contributions made by both the employer and employees.) We analyze the Daily Treasury Statements and, despite any appearance to the contrary in the Treasury’s Monthly Statements, these two taxes cannot be separately identified at the time deposits are received.

April and May Receipts - Comparison with 2011.


The period of interest here starts mid-April, after deferrred year-end bonuses wash through the system.
The data show a year over year growth of around 3.5%.  (In the second chart, the data points in May at 2.5% and 4.5% are residual calendar effects.)
Does this reconcile with other data? 
The BLS Employment (Payrolls) Survey of April 2012 reported:
- Total number of non-farm jobs rose by 1.4% from April 2011 to April 2012
- Average weekly earnings for the non-farm private sector rose 2.1% in the same period. it is worth noting that net of CPI-U inflation, this change has been flat to negative in recent months.
Now, although the relationship between income tax withheld and earnings is a non-linear one, it is approximately a one-to-one relationship for annual income increases near to the IRS change in tax bands of 2.5%.  An estimate that tax receipts should increase by 1.4 + 2.1%  = 3.5% is consistent with what we are seeing from the tax receipts.
Note that the kind of monthly changes reported by the BLS are relatively small compared to the variability we see in the noisy tax data.  No major discrepancies between the two are apparent currently.

The broader picture of tax growth over the past few years is shown below.