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posted on 07 December 2015

November 2015 CBO Monthly Budget Review: Receipts Up 3%

from the Congressional Budget Office

The federal budget deficit was $200 billion for the first two months of fiscal year 2016, CBO estimates. That deficit was $22 billion larger than the one recorded during the same period last year. Revenues and outlays were both higher than last year's amounts, by 3 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

Total Receipts: Up by 3 Percent in the First Two Months of Fiscal Year 2016

Receipts through November totaled $416 billion, CBO estimates—$12 billion more than the amount for the same period last year. The largest year-over-year changes were the following:

  • Individual income taxes and payroll (social insurance) taxes together rose by $19 billion (or 6 percent).
    • Increases in amounts withheld from workers' paychecks—$16 billion (or 5 percent)—accounted for the bulk of that gain. Total wage and salary income and withheld taxes have both grown at about that same rate in recent quarters.
    • Nonwithheld receipts, mainly from filings of tax returns for 2014 by people who had received filing extensions, rose by $4 billion (or 13 percent). Those increases were slightly offset by income tax refunds that were up by $1 billion (or 9 percent).
  • Corporate income taxes decreased by about $5 billion (from $13 billion in the first two months of fiscal year 2015 to $7 billion so far this year). Corporate income tax receipts in October and November generally represent a small percentage of the year's total, so the results for those two months are not a significant indicator of the receipts for the fiscal year as a whole. The first quarterly estimated payment of those taxes in the current fiscal year, for most corporations, is not due until December 15.

Total Outlays: Up by 6 Percent in the First Two Months of Fiscal Year 2016

Outlays for the first two months of fiscal year 2016 were $616 billion, or $34 billion higher than they were during the same period last year, CBO estimates. Outlays in several major categories increased:

  • Outlays for the three largest mandatory programs increased by 7 percent:
    • Social Security benefits rose by $7 billion (or 5 percent), reflecting typical recent growth in the number of beneficiaries and their average benefits.
    • Medicare spending increased by $8 billion (or 9 percent), some of which reflects the fact that the payment made to prescription drug plans each fall to account for unanticipated spending increases in the preceding calendar year was larger in 2015 than in 2014.
    • Outlays for Medicaid rose by $6 billion (or 12 percent), largely because of new enrollees added through the optional expansion of coverage authorized by the Affordable Care Act.
  • Outlays recorded for the Department of Justice (included in "Other" in the table) increased by $8 billion because in October 2014, that department received proceeds of roughly that amount from a legal settlement with the Bank of America, which had the effect of lowering outlays in fiscal year 2015.
  • Spending for the Commodity Credit Corporation in the Department of Agriculture (USDA, included in "Other") rose by $3 billion (or 46 percent). Because the 2014 farm bill terminated certain commodity programs, and payments under most new programs authorized by that legislation begin in fiscal year 2016, spending was unusually low in fiscal year 2015.
  • Spending for military activities of the Department of Defense grew by $2 billion (or 2 percent).

Changes in outlays for other programs mostly offset, on net.

Estimated Deficit in November 2015: $64 Billion

The federal government incurred a deficit of $64 billion in November 2015, CBO estimates—$7 billion more than the deficit in November 2014. If not for the shifts in payments from November to October in both 2014 and 2015 (because the regular payment dates fell on weekends), the deficit for this November would have been $3 billion more than last November's.

CBO estimates that receipts in November 2015 totaled $205 billion—$13 billion (or 7 percent) more than those in the same month last year. Individual income taxes and payroll taxes together rose by $14 billion (or 8 percent); an increase in withheld taxes for those sources explains nearly all of that change and in part reflects an extra business day in the month compared with November of last year.

Total spending in November 2015 was $269 billion, CBO estimates—$21 billion more than the sum in November 2014. Adjusted for timing shifts, outlays in November were $16 billion (or 6 percent) more than they were in the same month last year. (The changes discussed below reflect adjustments to account for those shifts.) Among the larger changes in outlays were these:

  • Spending rose for two of the government's three largest entitlement programs: Social Security spending rose by $3 billion (or 5 percent), and Medicaid outlays rose by $2 billion (or 8 percent).
  • Spending for military activities of the Department of Defense grew by $5 billion (or 12 percent).
  • Outlays increased by $2 billion each for several agencies, including the Department of Transportation, the USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Medicare spending fell by $3 billion (or 7 percent).
  • Outlays for net interest on the public debt decreased by $2 billion (or 7 percent).

Actual Deficit in October 2015: $137 Billion

The Treasury Department reported a deficit of $137 billion for October—the same as CBO estimated last month, on the basis of the Daily Treasury Statements, in the Monthly Budget Review: Summary for Fiscal Year 2015.

[click here to read the entire report]

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