US budget deficit running 15% higher than a year ago

US budget deficit in March running 15% higher than a year ago

FILE- In this March 30, 2019, file photo the Dome of the U.S. Capitol Building is visible as cherry blossom trees bloom on the West Lawn in Washington. On Wednesday, April 10, the Treasury Department releases federal budget data for March. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal government reported a $146.9 billion deficit in March, causing annual debt to rise 15% for the first half of the budget year compared to the same period in 2018.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday in its monthly report that the fiscal year deficit has so far totaled $691 billion, up from nearly $600 billion in 2018. The Treasury Department expects that the deficit will exceed $1 trillion when the fiscal year ends in September.

Tax receipts are running slightly higher than a year ago as more Americans are working and paying taxes. But the tax cuts signed into law by President Donald Trump in 2017 have meant that the $10 billion increase in receipts has failed to keep pace with a roughly $100 billion increase in government expenditures.

The Congressional Budget Office was slightly more optimistic about the deficit in its January outlook, estimating that it would stay just below $1 trillion until 2022 when it would consistently stay above that total.

But even as the budget deficit has risen, interest rates have stayed relatively low in a sign that investors are comfortable with the borrowing. The 10-year Treasury rate was 2.47 percent through Wednesday afternoon trading, down from nearly 2.8 percent a year ago.