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Informer: Net interest payment on US debt $220B in 2012

Last Modified: Tuesday, November 05, 2013 9:16 PM

By Andrew Perzo / American Press

What is the yearly interest payment on the national debt?

The net interest payment for fiscal year 2012 totaled $220.4 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The gross interest amount for that year, according to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Public Debt, was about $359.9 billion. Gross interest for fiscal year 2013 totaled $415,688,781,248.40.

Net interest refers to the interest applied to the “debt held by the public,” which makes up the largest part of the total federal debt, also known as “public debt outstanding.” Gross interest refers to net interest plus the interest the government owes itself as holder of the rest of the total debt, which stood at $17.1 trillion on Friday.

“Debt held by the public represents a burden on today’s economy as borrowing from the public absorbs resources available for private investment and may put upward pressure on interest rates. In addition, interest on debt held by the public is paid in cash and represents a burden on current taxpayers. …,” reads a Government Accountability Office report released in November 2012.

“In contrast, intragovernmental debt holdings typically do not require cash payments from the current budget or represent a burden on the current economy. In addition, from the perspective of the budget as a whole, Treasury’s interest payments to federal government accounts are entirely offset by the income received by such accounts.

“However, this intragovernmental debt and related interest reflects a burden on taxpayers and the economy in the future. Specifically, when federal government accounts redeem Treasury securities to obtain cash to fund expenditures, Treasury usually borrows from the public to finance these redemptions.”

Net interest payments made in other recent fiscal years:

2007 — $237.1 billion.

2008 — $252.8 billion.

2009 — $186.9 billion.

2010 — $196.2 billion.

2011 — $230 billion.

CBO projections for near-future years’ interest payments:

2013 — $223 billion.

2014 — $237 billion.

2015 — $264 billion.

2016 — $313 billion.

2017 — $398 billion.

How to help

To help reduce the debt, send a check, made payable to Bureau of the Public Debt, to Attn: Dept. G, Bureau of the Public Debt, P.O. Box 2188, Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188. Put “Gift to reduce the Debt Held by the Public” on the memo line.

According to the federal government’s latest monthly debt statement — dated Sept. 30 and compiled by the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service — gifts to reduce the debt amounted to $28,491.24 in August.

The year-to-date total though August was $1,617,861.49. The total for fiscal year 2012 was $7,749,618.27.

Gift totals from other recent years:

2007 — $2,624,862.42.

2008 — $2,189,358.89.

2009 — $3,063,057.05.

2010 — $2,840,466.75.

2011 — $3,277,369.23.


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The Informer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is researched and written by Andrew Perzo, an American Press staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098, press 5 and leave voice mail, or email

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