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US runs budget surplus in Sept, lowest deficit in 5 yrs

Wednesday, 30 Oct 2013 | 5:14 PM ET
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Rising tax receipts led the United States to run a budget surplus in September, leaving the federal deficit for the full fiscal year at its lowest level since 2008, Treasury Department data showed on Wednesday.

The federal government took in $75.1 billion more last month than it spent, leaving the deficit for the fiscal year, which runs from October to September, at $680 billion.

Washington took in about 80 cents for every dollar it spent over the year.

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The deficit widened sharply during the 2007-09 recession, which hit tax revenues and increased payments for unemployment benefits. But a strengthening economy, tax hikes and cuts to federal spending nearly halved the deficit in fiscal year 2013.

The Treasury said in a statement that higher tax receipts accounted for about 4/5 of the deficit's reduction.

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In the statement, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said over the last four years the budget had fallen at its fastest pace since World War II.

Many economists, including those at the International Monetary Fund, believe America's austerity measures over the last few years have hampered economic growth.

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With lawmakers meeting on Wednesday for budget talks, Lew called on Congress to deliver a "pro-growth budget agreement that strengthens the economy while maintaining fiscal discipline."

In September, the government took in $301 billion in revenues, about $40 billion more than was absorbed in September 2012. Revenues rose 13 percent over the full fiscal year.

Federal spending rose 21 percent in September from a year earlier, although Treasury officials noted that some major benefits payments fell outside their regular periods in recent months, skewing the figures. For the full fiscal year, spending declined 2 percent.

—By Reuters