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New York City tax revenue tops forecasts: sources

By Joan Gralla

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City tax revenue exceeded its forecasts by $239 million through the end of September, sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, bucking the downbeat trends seen in many U.S. states and cities.

The sources, who requested anonymity, offered a caution, however: about $180 million of the extra cash came from property taxes, which vary month to month.

"You're running a little bit ahead but it's nothing you can say hallelujah about," one source said.

Still, the city's cash cushion contrasts with the state's finances, which Governor Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly said are "grim." The state has a $350 million gap in its current budget and a $3.25 billion shortfall next year.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected soon to unveil a new budget plan. The extra revenue, though welcome, likely will limit his ability to launch ambitious new plans, one source predicted.

A spokesman for the mayor, who has sliced spending nearly a dozen times since 2007, had no immediate comment.

Both New York City and New York state rely heavily on taxes collected from Wall Street's banks and brokerages and their highly paid employees.

When the city and state reaped tax bonanzas from Wall Street's profits, this pattern was usually apparent by now.

"This time of year we'd like to be way ahead of the plan," the source said. October is not usually a big month for tax collections in New York City, producing only about 4.6 percent of the total.

The city's current budget totals about $66 billion and the property tax dwarfs all other taxes.

This year, the city expects to get $17 billion from property owners, another source said. That is nearly double the $8.5 billion the city got in 2002, when Bloomberg took office.

The personal income tax, whose pattern typically mirrors Wall Street's profit and loss cycles, produced $7.6 billion last year, up from $4.6 billion in 2002, the source said.

(Editing by Dan Grebler)