April 20, 2009

If You Don’t Think There’s a Collections Train Wreck in Progress ….

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:53 pm

…. think again:


(Sources: April 17, 2009; April 30, 2008; April 17, 2008)

April thus far has been nothing short of horrible.

Based on how the items above behaved last year, how slow collections have been this year, and the fact that only 10 9 business days remain in the month (13 days are gone), you’d have to be a wild-eyed optimist to think that Uncle Sam will collect $280 billion by month’s end. My guess is that it will be closer to $250 billion (my guesses by line item: $135 + $26 + $130 + $10 – $90 + $30 in all other receipts = $251), and it could conceivably be at lot less than that. I’m not even sure if sub-$220 bil is out of the question.

Raise your hand if you think the Congressional Budget Office expects a $120 billion-plus shortfall in April compared to last year, let alone a possible $150 billion or worse decline.

Answer: No way –The top numbers represent the White House’s estimates, and the bottom is CBO’s (obtained at the “Budget Projections” link at this page):


If April somehow comes in at the (unlikely) high end of $280 billion, year-to-date receipts will be $1.27 trillion. To reach CBO’s full-year collection estimate, Uncle Sam will have to collect about $890 billion — or $178 billion a month. At $212 billion, average monthly collections in the last five months of fiscal 2008 (ignoring the “negative receipt” treatment of the stimulus checks) were barely half of April’s. For the CBO to hit its $178 billion average collections target for May – September 2009, receipts are going to have to average about 63% of April’s total. That would appear unlikely.

April receipts have to be way behind what CBO projected based on its static economic assumptions.

I wonder why?



  1. Thanks for the fact-based reporting. One slight correction, the CBO numbers are at the “budget projections” link, not the “economic projections” link.

    Comment by howardl — April 23, 2009 @ 10:18 am

  2. #1, thx for the catch. I fixed it.

    Comment by TBlumer — April 23, 2009 @ 10:24 am

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