March deficit improves from 2018 at $147 billion

A combination of higher levels of tax revenues and reduced spending in March allowed the federal government to slow the pace of growth in red ink when compared to a year ago, but Uncle Sam still racked up a $147 billion deficit in March, putting the deficit for the first six months of the 2019 fiscal year at nearly $700 billion.

In new numbers released Wednesday by the Treasury Department, the federal government brought in almost $229 billion in revenues in March - up from $211 billion in March of 2018.

It was the second straight month that revenues had increased on a monthly comparison from a year earlier, after three straight months of declining figures.

Spending dropped in a similar year-to-year comparison, as federal outlays were nearly $376 billion in March, compared to $419.5 billion a year earlier.

In terms of the yearly deficit, the Treasury Department says that now stands at $691.2 billion, compared to just under $600 billion a year earlier.

The White House has predicted a deficit in Fiscal Year 2019 of over $1 trillion, which would be the first time since 2012.

Showing evidence of the strength of the economy, individual income taxes paid to the federal government in March totaled $97.2 billion in March, up from $88.1 billion a year earlier.

Overall, federal revenues are still slightly down in the first six months of the 2019 fiscal year, when compared to 2018, by just over $12 billion.

That figure would be worse if not for an increase in customs duties as a result of new tariffs instituted by President Trump - the U.S. has brought in $34.7 billion in import duties so far in 2019, almost doubling the $18.4 billion in the same six month period from last year.

The deficit for all of 2018 was $779 billion.  It currently stands at $691.1 billion in 2019, with six months left in the fiscal year.

The latest deficit estimate from the Treasury Department this year is just under $1.1 trillion.

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