The Treasury Department says the federal deficit swelled to $268.7 billion in the first nine months of this budget year as record spending during the period outpaced revenues.

The department's fresh look at the government's balance sheets, released Friday, shows that the deficit for the budget year that began Oct. 1 was up sharply from the red ink of nearly $121 billion for the corresponding nine-month period last year.

The new year-to-date deficit of $268.7 billion was the third-highest on record. A flood of tax rebates, aimed at stimulating the sluggish economy, left the government's coffers and contributed to the bigger deficit, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.

Spending totaled $2.2 trillion, while revenues came to $1.93 trillion.

The Bush administration estimated in February that the deficit for this year would be $410 billion. That would be just under the all-time high of $413 billion logged in 2004. Some private economists think this year's budget deficit will turn out to be higher than expected as an economic slowdown has cut into tax revenues.

Spending of $2.2 trillion so far this year is up from $2.1 trillion reported for the corresponding period last year. Meanwhile, revenues of $1.93 trillion are down from $1.945 trillion a year ago.

So far this budget year, the biggest spending categories are programs from the Health and Human Services Department, including Medicare and Medicaid, $520.4 billion; Social Security, $491.7 billion; military, $439.5 billion; and interest on the public debt, $377.3 billion.

For the month of June alone, the government actually ran a surplus of $50.7 billion. Revenues totaled $259.9 billion for the month, while spending came to $209.2 billion. The monthly showing was better than the $33 billion surplus economists were forecasting.