US deficit soars to record $1.7T in six months, fueled by COVID relief spending

Deficit for first half of budget year was up from $743.5B in the year-ago period

The U.S. budget deficit ballooned to a record $1.7 trillion in the first half of the fiscal year as a third round of stimulus checks included in President Biden’s coronavirus relief package sent federal spending skyrocketing.

The deficit for the first half of the budget year, from October through March, was up from $743.5 billion in the year-ago period, the Treasury Department said Monday. 

In March, the gap between what the government spent and what it collected hit $660 billion, nearly four times what it was one year ago. Revenue rose to $268 billion last month, while spending increased by 161% to $927 billion – the third-highest total on record, after June and April of last year, Treasury data shows.

The figure comes on the heels of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress in March, which sent a one-time payment of up to $1,400 to most Americans, expanded unemployment benefits by $300 a month and temporarily expanded the child tax credit. The stimulus payments in March totaled $339 billion.