December 2018 CBO Monthly Budget Review: Total Receipts Up By 1% And Spending Up 9% In The First Quarter Of Fiscal Year 2019

For other programs and activities, spending increased or decreased by smaller amounts.

Estimated Deficit in December 2018: $11 Billion

The federal government incurred a deficit of $11 billion in December 2018, CBO estimates—$12 billion less than the deficit in December 2017. As was the case last year, outlays in December were affected by shifts in the timing of certain federal payments that otherwise would have been due on January 1, a holiday; those shifts increased December outlays by about $20 billion in both years. However, because December 1, 2018, fell on a weekend, certain payments shifted from December to November; those shifts lowered outlays this December by $45 billion. If not for those shifts, the deficit for the month would have been $36 billion—$32 billion more than the deficit in December 2017.

CBO estimates that receipts in December 2018 totaled $312 billion—$13 billion (or 4 percent) less than those in the same month last year. Withholding of individual income and payroll taxes declined by $2 billion (or 1 percent) and corporate income tax receipts declined by $14 billion (or 23 percent). Excise taxes and customs duties increased by $1 billion and $2 billion, respectively.

Total spending in December 2018 was $324 billion, CBO estimates—$25 billion (or 7 percent) less than the sum in December 2017. If not for timing shifts, outlays in December would have been $19 billion (or 6 percent) more than they were in the same month last year. (The changes discussed below reflect adjustments to remove the effects of those shifts.)

The largest changes in outlays were as follows:

  • Net interest on the public debt rose by $11 billion (or 47 percent).
  • Social Security benefits rose by $4 billion (or 5 percent).
  • The government received $4 billion more in payments from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac than in December 2017, resulting in lower outlays.

Spending for other programs and activities increased or decreased by smaller amounts.

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