The Economy

Budget Deficit May Be Heading to 7-Year Low

The Congressional Budget Office revises its deficit projection for fiscal 2015 to $425 billion, down from $486 billion.
Matthew HellerAugust 11, 2015
Budget Deficit May Be Heading to 7-Year Low

The Congressional Budget Office is projecting a U.S. budget deficit of roughly $425 billion for fiscal 2015, 12.5% lower than the $486 billion it forecast in March.

If the CBO’s revised estimate for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 is correct, it would be a seven-year low for the government’s annual budget shortfalls. Last year’s deficit was $483 billion, 2.1% of gross domestic product, the lowest level since 2008.

According to the CBO’s monthly budget review for July, the deficit amounted to an estimated $463 billion for the first 10 months of fiscal 2015 — $2 billion larger than the shortfall for the same period last year. But if not for shifts in the timing of certain payments (which otherwise would have fallen on a weekend), the deficit so far this year would have declined by $41 billion.

So far in 2015, the government collected $196 billion more in taxes than during the same period last year. The amount collected in personal income taxes rose by 8%, reflecting a 6% increase in the amounts withheld from workers’ paychecks.

“Growth in wages and salaries probably explains the increase in withheld receipts,” the CBO said.

Corporate income taxes rose by $22 billion (or 9%), probably reflecting higher taxable profits in calendar years 2014 and 2015.

On the other side of the ledger, spending in the first 10 months of the year was $198 billion higher, but it was boosted by shifts of certain payments from August to July (because Aug. 1 fell on a weekend). With Obamacare fueling increased enrollment, Medicaid spending rose 18% while Medicare and Social Security increased 8% and 4%, respectively.

Outlays were down for net interest on the public debt (-6%), unemployment benefits (-25%), and military activities (-2%).