Wider Than Expected Treasury Deficit in March

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The month of March 2016 brought in some $228 billion in tax receipts for the federal government, down from $234 billion for March of 2015. A monthly budget report from the Treasury showed that total spending in March of $336 billion (up from $287 billion in March 2015) generated a total monthly deficit of $108 billion (versus almost $53 billion in March 2015).

24/7 Wall St. decided to look closer at the budget deficit figures to see what was the driving force here, and to show what was expected and how this stacks up to other periods.

The $108 billion deficit was wider than the $102 billion that was listed as the official consensus estimate from Bloomberg. March’s range of estimates from the Econoday data showed a range of −$88 billion to a range of −$104 billion. In short, the Treasury deficit is not vastly wider but is worse than all economists had expected.

What matters here is that this puts the government six months of the way through its fiscal year 2016.

For fiscal 2016 on a year-to-date basis, the United States has collected total taxes of $1.476 trillion, and the total spending of $1.937 trillion has generated a total year-to-date deficit of $461 billion. It collected $675 billion from individual income taxes and $523 billion from Social Security and other payroll taxes. Corporate tax receipts year to date were $122 billion and other taxes and duties were $157 billion.

Medicare costs were up 4.4% this year. Individual tax receipts are up 5.2% this year, but that is a month ahead of the April tax payment from Joe Public — the heaviest tax receipt month every year.

The Treasury report showed the following metrics for March and year to date for fiscal year 2016:

  • Interest on debt: $24 billion in March, $126 billion year to date
  • Medicare: $48 billion in March, $280 billion year to date
  • Social Security: $76 billion in March, $452 billion year to date
  • Defense: $54 billion in March, $299 billion year to date
  • Other: $134 billion in March, $779 billion year to date

It will be interesting to see how the U.S. tax receipts turn out in April of 2016. Again, this is the biggest single month of all tax collection months. The April 2015 tax receipts were $471.8 billion.

For the first six months of 2016, the total receipts (taxes collected) was $1.476 trillion, up from $1.42 trillion this time a year ago.