News and Commentary

The Federal Government Collected More Taxes In 2018 Than Ever Before

The federal government collected a record $1,665,484,000,000 in taxes last year, making it the best year of income for the government on record.

CNS News reports that the December monthy receipts statement from the U.S. Department of the Treasury lists 2018 as the best year for the feds ever, even though the president signed a major tax break into law at the end of 2017.

“The real federal individual income tax revenues collected in calendar 2018 were $9,312,450,000 more than the real individual income tax revenues collected in calendar year 2017,” CNS reports, even though 2017 was itself a record breaking year for tax receipts (that year, the federal government collected an astounding $1,656,171,550,000).

The massive tax cut did impact the federal government in overall tax collections. Those declined a little, from $3,407,503,740,000 to $3,330,470,000,000. Much of that decline came in the form of lost corporate income taxes.

Corporation income tax collections declined significantly from calendar year 2017 to calendar year 2018. In calendar 2017, the Treasury collected $290,978,980,000 in corporation income taxes (in constant December 2018 dollars). In calendar 2018, the Treasury collected $195,790,000,000 in corporation income taxes—a drop of $95,188,980,000.

But clearly, the government isn’t in dire straits — at least, until you consider the spending.

And therein lies the problem: even though the government is bringing in record cash, they’re sending it out the door quicker than ever. The debt has now crossed $22 trillion — a new record — and the new budget deal, expected to be inked this week and signed by the president before tomorrow night, when the government will shut down if unfunded, is expected to top more than $1.3 trillion — also a new record.

Those legislators concerned about a mere $5 billion for a border wall were clearly not as concerned when it came to spending for their own home districts or to expand other government agencies.

Although little has been made of expended numbers outside of border security, which has dominated headlines since the first iteration of the 2019 budget bill came to light in November, its rare for Congress to decrease spending year over year and in 2018 the federal budget set a record by clearing $1 trillion. In 2011, Congress instituted a temporary cap in spending increases in order to keep the government’s debt-to-income ration from jolting up to rapidly, but in both 2018 and 2019, Congress passed a resolution all but ignoring those spending caps.

That means that the federal budget can only increase over last year’s $1.3 trillion dollars — something that’s escaped discussion.

The good news is, of course, that the tax cuts have pushed tax receipts higher — for now. Democrats have pledged to re-visit the Trump corporate tax cuts as soon as they have an opportunity.