Corporate tax payments hitting an all-time high last month helped offset record federal spending.

In its monthly budget report, the Treasury Department said that corporate income tax collections totaled $73.5 billion last month, surpassing the old record of $72 billion reached three months earlier in September.

The Treasury said that government receipts surpassed spending by $10.98 billion last month. A year earlier, the government ran a deficit of $2.85 billion in December. Government receipts are up 12.1 percent from a year ago, to $241.88 billion, while government spending has risen by just 5.6 percent, to $230.9 billion. That spending figure still represents an all-time high for spending in any month.

Through the first three months of the current budget year, which began on Oct. 1, government tax receipts have totaled $530.2 billion, up 8.8 percent from the same period a year ago.After reaching a high of $413 billion in 2004, the deficit narrowed to $377 billion in 2005. President Bush has vowed to cut the deficit in half by 2009 while preserving his first-term tax cuts, and Treasury Secretary John Snow said in recent comments that the administration plans to lower the deficit through stringent controls on spending.

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