U.S. January budget deficit hits record $163 billion as new aid checks sent out

FILE PHOTO: U.S. one hundred dollar notes are seen in this picture illustration taken in Seoul February 7, 2011. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government posted a budget deficit of $163 billion in January, a record high for the month and a $130 billion jump from the deficit in the same month last year, as a new round of direct payments to individuals were distributed, the Treasury said on Wednesday.

Receipts for January rose 3% from the year-earlier period to $385 billion, while outlays grew 35% to $547 billion. Both receipts and outlays were record highs for January.

For the first four months of the 2021 fiscal year, the deficit rose 89% to $736 billion, with receipts rising 1% to $1.19 trillion and outlays increasing 23% to $1.92 trillion. The deficit, receipts and outlays were all year-to-date record highs.

The January deficit would have been considerably larger if not for some $44 billion in benefits being paid in December because the New Year’s Day holiday came at the start of a weekend.

Receipts last month were helped by an 18% increase in individual non-withheld tax payments, and a 49% increase in corporate tax payments, the latter of which a Treasury official said were increased by the repatriation of overseas earnings.

The official said January outlays were increased by about $139 billion in direct payments by the Treasury to individuals, mostly through $600 checks sent out as part of a year-end COVID-19 stimulus bill. Replenished unemployment benefits and rental assistance also boosted U.S. outlays, the official said.

Reporting by David Lawder Editing by Paul Simao