Budget Issues:

Earmarking in the Federal Government

AIMD-95-216FS: Published: Aug 1, 1995. Publicly Released: Aug 1, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the extent to which federal receipts are earmarked for particular uses through authorizing legislation, focusing on: (1) what percent of total receipts from the public are earmarked; (2) the level of earmarking by fund type; and (3) the extent of earmarking at the state government level.

GAO found that: (1) in fiscal year (FY) 1994, 47 percent of total receipts from the public were earmarked in the federal budget; (2) the six types of budget accounts are classified as either expenditure or receipt accounts; (3) only general fund budget accounts are used to account for collections that are not earmarked for a specific purpose, but some general fund accounts receive earmarked receipts which are credited directly to the account; (4) the five other types of budget accounts are designed for programs mainly financed by earmarked receipts; (5) the FY 1994 federal budget had 574 special and trust fund receipt accounts that received earmarked receipts and 567 expenditure accounts that received offsetting collections; (6) nonrevolving trust funds, which finance large entitlement programs, accounted for about 75 percent of all earmarked public receipts; (7) states earmark about 24 percent of their collections, but there is a great variation among states in the extent of their earmarking; and (8) states appear to be turning more readily to earmarking taxes than they did in the past.

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