Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

U.S. Budget Gap Hits Eight-Year Low as Tax Receipts Reach Record

  • Receipts jump 7.6%, outlays increase 5.2%, government says
  • Treasury faces fiscal deadline next month due to debt ceiling

The U.S. budget deficit shrank to the smallest since 2007 as stronger individual and corporate tax revenue boosted receipts to a record.

The shortfall was $438.9 billion in fiscal year 2015, 9.2 percent less than a year earlier, the Treasury Department said Thursday in a report in Washington. The Congressional Budget Office estimated on Oct. 7 that the gap was $435 billion.

Higher tax receipts “can be attributed to a stronger economy,” the department said in a a statement.

Receipts rose 7.6 percent and spending increased 5.2 percent in the 12 months ended Sept. 30. U.S. economic growth, while modest, is still much higher than in most other developed nations, and helped bring the jobless rate to a seven-year-low of 5.1 percent in September.

Receipts, investments and expenditures so far this month have led Treasury to lower its estimate of available resources, causing Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew to set an earlier deadline for Congress to raise the debt ceiling. Lawmakers need to act no later than Nov. 3, or the U.S. will be left with less than $30 billion to meet all the nation’s commitments, Lew said in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner earlier Thursday.

The U.S. is trying to avoid a repeat of October 2013, when a debt-extension agreement was reached just before the Treasury had expected to run out of borrowing authority. This time, the negotiations have been complicated by Boehner’s plans to depart.

For the month of September, the government posted a $91.1 billion surplus, narrower than the $105.8 billion surplus a year earlier.

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