June 12, 2019 / 6:09 PM / a month ago

U.S. government posts $208 billion deficit in May

FILE PHOTO: Sun shines on the U.S. Capitol Dome as budget legislation deadlines loom for a potential federal government shutdown in Washington, U.S., December 21, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Washington posted a $208 billion budget deficit in May as a modest increase in revenues failed to make up for higher spending on the military and social welfare programs like Medicare, according to data released on Wednesday by the Treasury Department.

The deficit was the highest ever for the month of May and wider than the average forecast of $185.5 billion in a Reuters poll of analysts.

Government spending rose to $440 billion, up 21% from May of 2018. Receipts increased to $232 billion, up 7% from the same month last year.

Tariffs provided a modest boost to government coffers, with customs duties taking in $5 billion during the month, up from $3 billion in May 2018. The Trump administration has raised tariffs on several major trading partners - notably China.

Gross tax revenues from corporations fell to $6 billion in May from $7 billion a year earlier. Spending on the military rose to $62 billion.

Treasury officials who asked not to be identified said May’s deficit would have been about $159 billion - smaller than the unadjusted results - when taking into account calendar differences including the timing of payments to Medicare.

The deficit for the fiscal year to date was $739 billion, compared with $532 billion in the comparable period the year earlier.

When adjusted for calendar effects, the deficit was $692 billion for the fiscal year to date versus $580 billion in the comparable prior period.

Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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