US federal deficit widens 77% in first 4 months of fiscal 2019

US federal deficit widens 77% in first 4 months of fiscal 2019
John R. Coughlin/CNNMoney
Congress has never willfully let the United States default on any of its legal obligations. So it's impossible to say with certainty what will happen if lawmakers don't approve a debt ceiling increase soon.

The federal budget deficit ballooned in the first four months of the 2019 fiscal year, growing 77% over the same period a year earlier as tax revenue plummeted and government spending went up.

Figures released Tuesday by the Treasury Department showed the deficit hitting $310 billion, up from $176 billion a year ago.

Treasury said that part of the increase in the deficit was due to a shift in timing of certain payments.

The fresh numbers come as the White House is preparing a new budget for the federal government, which is expected to be released in mid-March, is certain to incite pushback by congressional Democrats.

The growing deficit is being driven in part by the 2017 Republican tax reform, which sharply cut taxes for corporations as well as individuals.

Treasury said revenue from taxes collected from individuals for the period for October 2018 through January 2019 fell 2% to $19 billion. Revenue from corporations declined about 22% to $58.9 billion from $75.5 billion.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that federal budget deficit will reach roughly $900 billion starting in 2019, and is expected to exceed $1 trillion each year beginning in 2022.