NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Surging Revenues Seem Unlikely This April

April 22, 1999

For the past two years, an unexpected surge in spring tax payments -- known as the April surprise -- has enabled government economists to add tens of billions of dollars to their surplus forecasts. But don't count on that happening this year, experts warn.

"We're seeing absolutely no indication of any of the surprises we had in the past two Aprils," says William Hoagland, chief staff director of the Senate Budget Committee. "And if we were going to see a surprise, we probably would have seen it by now."

  • Tax revenue collected though April 19 stood at $100.48 billion -- in line with analysts' expectations.
  • For fiscal 1999, which ends September 30, the Congressional Budget Office is forecasting a surplus of $111 billion -- compared to $69.3 billion in fiscal 1998.
  • The Treasury Department's complete budget statement for March -- which includes expenditures as well as revenue -- reveals that the deficit for the month was $22.42 billion, slightly worse than the CBO budget forecast of $20.1 billion and wider than March 1998's $13.8 billion deficit.
  • For the first six months of the fiscal year, spending on Medicare fell 3 percent compared with the previous year -- suggesting that recent cost-cutting efforts have had a bigger impact than previously anticipated.

For the first six months of fiscal 1999, the budget deficit totaled $49.93 billion, compared with a $69.86 billion deficit in the year-earlier period. Year-to-date receipts were up 6.8 percent. Outlays over that period climbed 3.5 percent.

Source: Alejandro Bodipo-Memba and Jacob M Schlesinger, "U.S. Tax Revenue Is on Track, Dashing GOP Hopes for Another April Surprise," Wall Street Journal, April 22, 1999.


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