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Monthly Budget Review: March 2024

The federal budget deficit totaled $1.1 trillion in the first half of fiscal year 2024, the Congressional Budget Office estimates—$37 billion less than the deficit recorded during the same period last fiscal year. Revenues this year were $140 billion (or 7 percent) higher and outlays were $103 billion (or 3 percent) higher from October through March than during the same period in fiscal year 2023.

Shifts in the timing of certain payments affect that comparison. Outlays in the first six months of each fiscal year were reduced by shifts of some payments that otherwise would have been due on October 1, which fell on a weekend. (Those payments were made in September 2022 and September 2023, respectively). In addition, because April 1, 2023, fell on a weekend, outlays in the first half of fiscal year 2023 were boosted by the shifting of payments into March 2023; those amounts were larger than the amounts shifted from October to September 2022, increasing outlays, on net, in fiscal year 2023. If not for the various shifts, the deficit so far in fiscal year 2024 would have been $1,136 billion, $46 billion more than the shortfall for the same period in fiscal year 2023.

CBO projects a deficit of $1.5 trillion for fiscal year 2024, down from $1.7 trillion in fiscal year 2023. Excluding the effects of shifts in the timing of some outlays, the decline in the deficit would be about $100 billion. In June, CBO will update its estimate of the 2024 deficit.

Originally published at https://www.cbo.gov/publication/60115

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