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U.S. posts April deficit for 3rd time in 30 years

By Chavon Sutton, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The government posted only its third April deficit in the past 30 years, according to data released Wednesday by the Treasury Department.

The $82.7 billion shortfall, the most ever run in the month when Americans file their tax returns, brought the deficit for the first seven months of the fiscal year to $799.7 billion. The year-to-date deficit was down marginally from $802.3 billion in the same period a year earlier.

It was the 19th consecutive monthly deficit and surpassed the $20.9 billion shortfall last April.

Historically, April has been a surplus month for the government because of the April 15 tax filing deadline. But the bank bailout and stimulus spending has contributed to monthly deficits over the last two years.

"Two consecutive years of April deficits is reflective of the depth of the recession," said Bob Bixby, executive director for the Concord Coalition, a federal budget watchdog group.

Receipts in April were about $245.3 billion, down from $266.2 billion a year earlier, and outlays were about $327.9 billion, up from $287.1 billion.

For the seven-month period, government outlays continued to outpace receipts. The government collected 11.6% less in individual income taxes - its largest revenue source - compared to the same period a year earlier. But the decline was slightly offset by a 8.9% jump in revenue from corporations.

The last time the government reported a surplus was just before the financial crisis in September 2008, when it posted a $45.7 billion gain.

The Treasury Department expects that the deficit will reach $1.56 trillion this fiscal year, up from a record $1.41 trillion in fiscal 2009.

The magnitude of the measures used to stem the crisis propelled President Obama to sign legislation that increased the government's debt cap to a record high $14.3 trillion earlier this year. U.S. debt subject to that limit totaled $12.95 trillion as of Wednesday.

The government's deficit has spurred worries about the U.S. government's ability to avoid a similar fate as Greece and other debt-laden European countries.

Although the nation has some advantages over Greece and is unlikely to automatically slip into the same dire budget crunch, Bixby said the fundamentals of the crisis are the same and that worries are valid.

Greece's problems are a "clear sign that we too need to get our act together," he said. "It's a worry because what's going on in Europe could slow the global recovery and that wouldn't be good for us either."  To top of page

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