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What is Revenue Deficit?

  • Apr 18, 2024

When spending is more than what's earned, it creates a revenue deficit. The revenue deficit meaning is that the government is spending more than it is earning, using savings from other parts of the economy to cover its expenses. Tax revenue is what's left after giving states their share and local bodies their portion of Union Territory taxes. Other income includes money from interests, dividends, and profits. On the other hand, grants to Union Territories include money from foreign sources as well.

A revenue deficit happens when the government spends more than it earns, using savings from other parts of the economy to cover its expenses. It's a crucial measure of a country's financial health and can lead to issues like inflation or increased debt. This deficit can also affect the government's ability to offer public services.

Revenue Deficit Formula

Revenue Deficit = Total Revenue Expenditure – Total Revenue Receipts

Revenue Receipts

Revenue receipts can be interpreted as those receipts that neither form any liability nor cause any decline in the government's assets. These receipts are regular and recurring in nature, and the government receives them in the normal course of activities. They don’t affect the asset-liability position of the government.

They are further broken down into Tax and Non-Tax revenues. Examples of Tax Revenues are income tax, corporate tax, customs duties, Union Excise Duties, and GST. Examples of Non-Tax Revenues are interest receipts, fees/ user charges like National Highways & Bridges usage/toll fees etc., dividends from PSUs and Telecom Spectrum Receipts, etc.

Revenue Expenditure

Short-term expenses of the current period or the ones used within one year are termed revenue expenditures. These expenditures are incurred for aspects like the normal functioning of various government departments, grants given to state governments and interest payments made on the debt (government securities issued) by the Union Government, etc.

For example:- Interest payments for the amount borrowed by the Government, salaries, pensions, subsidies – food, fuel, fertilizer, grants made to states, welfare schemes and health protection schemes.

What Causes Revenue Deficit?

A Revenue Deficit arises when the government's revenue is lower than its revenue expenditure. The main causes of revenue deficit are excessive government borrowings, high levels of tax avoidance and evasion, high levels of income and wealth inequality, poor performance of the public sector, and higher revenue expenditure, such as salaries, pensions, and interest payments.


During times of recession and economic slowdown, the revenue of the government in the form of taxation tends to fall, which leads to a revenue deficit.

2. Low tax collection

Suppose the taxation rates in the country are low or there exists a habit of tax evasion among citizens. In that case, the government may need to collect more revenue to meet its expenditure.

3.Unnecessary expenditure

Government obligations on subsidies sometimes overspend and make inappropriate expenditures. Even though these subsidies are essential for citizens, they can strain government finances.

4.External factors

Events like natural disasters, wars or pandemics lead to extra financial burdens on the government, which causes more revenue deficits.

Implications of Revenue Deficit

A Revenue deficit implies the inability of the government to meet the expenditure on the routine functioning of the economy. It indicates that the government is using up the savings from other sectors of the economy to finance its consumption expenditure. A revenue deficit can also lead to a reduction in public investment and social welfare schemes, which can affect the quality of life of citizens.

Managing Revenue Deficit

Reducing revenue expenditure can also help reduce revenue deficits. To define revenue deficit, it is the situation when the government's spending is more than its earnings. Governments can do this by reducing subsidies or by cutting down on unnecessary expenses. However, reducing subsidies can have social and political implications, as it can impact vulnerable sections of the population.

Therefore, governments need to evaluate the implications of such decisions carefully. In addition to reducing revenue deficits, it is essential to ensure that government spending is efficient and effective.

Governments need to ensure that they are using public funds judiciously and there is minimal wastage or corruption. This can be achieved by implementing transparent systems of governance and creating mechanisms to monitor and evaluate government spending.


The revenue deficit formula is a useful tool for understanding a country’s fiscal health. Reducing revenue deficits requires a balanced approach that involves increasing revenue receipts, reducing revenue expenditure, and ensuring efficient and effective government spending. Policymakers need to be strategic in their decisions to ensure that they do not adversely affect the population’s well-being while also ensuring long-term fiscal sustainability.

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by Team Sharekhan

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