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Ryan Rauschenberger

North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger, shown speaking at a press conference in 2015, when he reported that North Dakota statewide taxable sales and purchases experienced a fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit declines.

Taxable sales increases in oil country propped up the state average as the majority of North Dakota counties saw decreases in the first quarter compared to last year.

Taxable sales and purchases statewide increased nearly 10 percent in January, February and March to about $4.1 billion. But of North Dakota’s 53 counties, only 23 saw increases; the rest decreased, largely by 7 percent or more.

“This 10 percent increase in the first quarter is the largest year-over-year growth we’ve seen since 2014,” Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger said. “We are continuing with positive gains as this is the fourth quarter in a row that we’ve seen growth in this report … The increase in oil activity in the western part of the state played a major role in moving this report to a double-digit positive again.”

Williams and McKenzie counties saw 33.29 percent and 37.32 percent increases respectively.

“Williston has moved back to having the second-largest taxable sales and purchases in the state, with Fargo holding at first,” Rauschenberger said.

Williston’s taxable sales and purchases were up 33.19 percent, while Fargo’s were down 1.96 percent.

Watford City, another oil field town had a taxable sales and purchases increase of 40.63 percent. Tioga was up 38.36 percent, New Town was up 28.15 percent and Dickinson was up 14.72 percent.

At $317.6 million, Bismarck’s taxable sales and purchases were down 7.16 percent compared to last year. Mandan’s were down 13.42 percent to $50.2 million. From this, Bismarck collected $3.8 million in sales taxes, according to the state treasurer's office. Mandan collected nearly $865,00 in sales tax.

Including April and May, Bismarck has collected nearly $6.5 million for the year and Mandan has collected nearly $1.5 million, both lagging slightly behind last year.

Nine of the 15 major business sectors did report gains. Mining and oil extraction increased its taxable sales and purchases by $253 million, a 78.42 percent increase. Wholesale trade was up by $145.5 million, an 18.41 percent increase. Retail remained relatively level at about $1.3 billion.

The complete report can be accessed online at

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Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or


Business Reporter