The federal government ran a budget deficit of $627 billion from October 2012 through May 2013 (the first eight months of fiscal year 2013), according to CBO’s estimates. That amount is almost $220 billion less than the shortfall recorded during the same period last year, primarily because federal revenues have risen by 15 percent, while the government’s spending has risen by less than 1 percent. For fiscal year 2013 as a whole, according to CBO’s updated estimates based on current law (which were released last month), the deficit will total $642 billion.
Receipts for the first eight months of fiscal year 2013 totaled $1,800 billion—$236 billion more than the amount taken in over the same period last year, CBO estimates.
Taxes withheld from workers’ paychecks rose by $118 billion (or 10 percent), mainly because of higher wages and salaries, the expiration of the payroll tax cut in January 2013, and increases (beginning in January) in tax rates on income above certain thresholds.
Nonwithheld receipts rose by $81 billion (or 29 percent), primarily because of higher payments made during the tax-filing season (February through April). Those payments—largely representing final payments for the 2012 tax year—increased by $66 billion (or 36 percent). Income tax refunds declined by $9 billion (or 4 percent), further boosting receipts. The large percentage increase—86 percent—in other receipts of individual income and social insurance taxes (which are net of refunds) occurred because last year’s refunds offset much more of the payments than this year’s have.
Outlays for the first eight months of fiscal year 2013 were slightly greater than what the federal government spent during the same period last year. That increase stemmed in part from shifts in the timing of certain payments, mostly because scheduled payment dates fell on weekend. (Some spending for defense, Medicare, and veterans’ programs was affected.) Without those timing shifts, CBO estimates that total spending would have declined by $46 billion (or 2 percent).
Outlays for some major programs or categories of spending were less than what was spent in the first eight months of last year:
In contrast, for some major programs and activities, spending increased over the amounts for the first eight months of last year:
The federal government incurred a deficit of $139 billion in May 2013, CBO estimates—$15 billion more than the shortfall reported for that month in 2012. But that comparison is distorted by quirks of the calendar: Because June 1, 2013, fell on a Saturday, certain payments that ordinarily would have been made in June were instead made earlier, increasing outlays in May by about $34 billion. Without that shift in the timing of payments, the deficit for May 2013 would have been $19 billion less than the deficit for May 2012.
CBO estimates that receipts in May totaled $197 billion—$16 billion (or 9 percent) more than those in the same month last year:
Total spending in May 2013 was $336 billion, CBO estimates—$30 billion more than outlays in the same month of 2012. However, outlays would have been $4 billion less than they were during May 2012 if not for the effects of timing shifts. That decrease in spending reflects these changes from the amounts spent in the same month last year:
The Treasury Department reported a surplus of $113 billion for April, about $1 billion more than CBO estimated on the basis of the Daily Treasury Statements.
This document was prepared by Elizabeth Cove Delisle, Barbara Edwards, Dan Hoople, and Joshua Shakin.