The federal budget deficit was $1,048 billion in the first five months of fiscal year 2021, the Congressional Budget Office estimates—$423 billion more than the deficit recorded during the same period last year. Outlays were 25 percent higher and revenues were 5 percent higher from October through February than during the same period in fiscal year 2020.
Outlays during the first five months of fiscal year 2020 were boosted by shifts in the timing of certain payments that otherwise would have been due at the beginning of March 2020, which fell on a weekend. Those shifts increased outlays through February 2020 by $52 billion. If not for those shifts, the deficit this year (through February 2021) would have been $476 billion more than in the same period in fiscal year 2020. Three-quarters of that difference is the result of three types of spending in response to the coronavirus pandemic—unemployment compensation, refundable tax credits (consisting of the recovery rebates, the earned income tax credit, and the child tax credit), and the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.