In April, the federal government took in a record sum of $515 billion in taxes, according to a newly released Congressional Budget Office report. During that time, we spent $297 billion. Yes, you read that correctly: We actually took in more than we spent — a lot more. That $218 billion surplus is, in fact, a new record, beating the previous record set back in 2001 ($190 billion) by $28 billion.
As The Washington Times points out, the amount of the surplus surprised CBO analysts, who were predicting about $40 billion less, though some of that has to do with a shift in timing of payments. In its report, the CBO suggests that the unexpectedly high tax revenues was a result of "stronger-than-expected" economic growth last year and in early 2018.
"Those payments were mostly related to economic activity in 2017 and may reflect stronger-than-expected income growth in that year," reads the summary. "Part of the strength in receipts also may reflect larger-than-anticipated payments for economic activity in 2018. The reasons for the added revenues will be better understood as more detailed information becomes available later this year."
While the news for April is good, a surplus in April is common and some of the record-setting numbers have to do with "shifts in the timing of certain payments that otherwise would have been due on a weekend," the CBO notes. We are also still behind for fiscal year 2018.
"The federal budget deficit was $382 billion for the first seven months of fiscal year 2018, the Congressional Budget Office estimates, $37 billion more than the shortfall recorded during the same period last year," the CBO reports. "Revenues and outlays were higher, by 4 percent and 5 percent, respectively, than they were during the first seven months of fiscal year 2017."
Here's the section from the new report summarizing the revenues and outlays from April:
The federal government realized a surplus of $218 billion in April 2018, CBO estimates—$35 billion larger than the surplus in April 2017.
CBO estimates that receipts in April 2018 totaled $515 billion—$59 billion (or 13 percent) more than those in the same month last year. Individual income and payroll taxes rose by $73 billion (or 20 percent), on net. Nonwithheld payments for those taxes, largely final payments of 2017 taxes, rose by $60 billion. Withholding of individual income and payroll taxes rose by $7 billion (or 4 percent). Withheld taxes rose both because wages and salaries were higher and because April 2018 had one more business day than April 2017. However, those factors were partially offset because the share of wages withheld for taxes was lower, CBO estimates, reflecting the new withholding tables issued in January. Corporate income tax payments declined by $14 billion (or 24 percent).
Total spending in April 2018 was $297 billion, CBO estimates—$24 billion more than the sum in April 2017.
The largest changes in outlays were as follows:
- Net interest on the public debt rose by $6 billion (or 21 percent).
- Social Security benefits rose by $4 billion (or 5 percent).
- Spending for military programs of the Department of Defense rose by $4 billion (or 11 percent).
- Medicaid benefits rose by $3 billion (or 10 percent).
Spending for other programs and activities increased or decreased by smaller amounts.