The Economy

U.S. Budget Deficit Widens to $208B in March

The U.S. government's rising debt "would have serious negative consequences for the budget and the nation," the CBO warned this week.
Matthew HellerApril 12, 2018
U.S. Budget Deficit Widens to $208B in March

The U.S. budget deficit increased more than $32 billion, or 18.4%, in March from a year ago, reflecting in part lower revenues due to the new tax law.

The Treasury Department reported on Wednesday that the U.S. government had a $208.7 billion budget shortfall last month, compared to a deficit of $176.2 billion in the same month last year.

Revenues were down 3%, at $211 billion, in March, with withholding of individual income and payroll taxes falling by 2%. Spending rose 7% to $420 billion, with outlays for net interest on the public debt increasing by 11%.

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Under the new tax law, employers were required to use the new withholding tables by Feb. 15.

While economists expect the tax cuts will boost growth in 2018 and into 2019, the Congressional Budget Office earlier this week forecast that trillion-dollar deficits will return in 2020.

The Trump White House has forecast a $833 billion budget deficit for the year that ends Sept. 30, up from $666 billion in the prior year. The deficit is projected to reach $981 billion in 2019.

The U.S. hasn’t run deficits exceeding $1 trillion since 2012. From 2009 to 2012, deficits were above $1 trillion as the government grappled with the recession and a financial crisis.

“Such high and rising debt would have serious negative consequences for the budget and the nation,” CBO Director Keith Hall said. “In particular, the likelihood of a fiscal crisis in the United States would increase.”

President Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax cut in late December and a $1.3 trillion spending bill in March. For the first half of the fiscal year, the budget shortfall is $600 billion, up 14% over the prior fiscal year’s first six months.