Public finance is the management of a country’s revenue, expenditures Expenditure. An expenditure represents a payment with either cash or credit to purchase goods or services. An expenditure is recorded at a single point in time (the time of purchase), compared to an expense which is allocated or accrued over a period of time. This guide will review the different types of expenditures in accounting, and debt load through various government and quasi-government institutions. This guide provides an overview of how public finances are managed, what the various components of public finance are, and how to easily understand what all the numbers mean. A country’s financial position can be evaluated in much the same way as a business’ financial statements Three Financial Statements The three financial statements are the income statement, the balance sheet, and the statement of cash flows. These three core statements are intricately.            

Components of Public Finance

The main components of public finance include activities related to collecting revenue Sales Revenue Sales revenue is the income received by a company from its sales of goods or the provision of services. In accounting, the terms “sales” and “revenue” can be, and often are, used interchangeably, to mean the same thing. Revenue does not necessarily mean cash received., making expenditures to support society, and implementing a financing strategy (such as issuing government debt). The main components include:

Tax collection

Tax collection is the main revenue source for governments. Examples of taxes collected by governments include sales tax, income tax (a type of progressive tax Progressive Tax A progressive tax is a tax rate that increases as the taxable value goes up. It is usually segmented into tax brackets that progress to successively higher rates. For example, a progressive tax rate may move from 0% to 45%, from the lowest and highest brackets), estate tax, and property tax. Other types of revenue in this category include duties and tariffs on imports and revenue from any type of public services that are not free.


The budget is a plan of what the government intends to have as expenditures in a fiscal year. In the U.S., for example, the president submits to Congress a budget request, the House and Senate create bills for specific aspects of the budget, and then the President signs them into law. Read a copy of 2017 Budget of the U.S. government, as published by the Office of Management and Budget.


Expenditures are everything that a government actually spends money on, such as social programs, education, and infrastructure. Much of the government’s spending is a form of income or wealth redistribution, which is aimed at benefiting society as a whole. The actual expenditures may be greater than or less than the budget.


If the government spends more then it collects in revenue there is a deficit in that year. If the government has less expenditures than it collects in taxes, there is a surplus.


If the government has a deficit (spending is greater than revenue), it will fund the difference by borrowing money and issuing national debt. The U.S. Treasury is responsible for issuing debt, and when there is a deficit, the Office of Debt Management (ODM) will make the decision to sell government securities to investors.

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  1. Provision of public goods: -For providing public goods like roads, military services and street lightsetc. public finance is needed. Business firms will have no incentive to produce such goods, as they get no payment from private individuals.
  2. Public finance enables governments to tackle or offset undesirable side effects of a market economy. The side effects are called spill overs or externalities. For example, pollution. The governments can introduce recycling programmes to lessen pollution or they can make laws to restrict pollution or impose pollution charges or taxes on activities that bring about pollution.
  3. Public finance helps governments to redistribute income. To reduce the inequality in the economy, the governments can impose taxes on the richer people and provide goods and services for the needy ones.
  4. Public finance provides many a programme for moderating the incomes of the rich and the poor. Such programmes include social security, welfare and other social programmes.
  5. The acceptance of the principle of welfare state, the role of public finance has been increasing. Modern governments are no more police states as the classical economists viewed.
  6. As the scope of state participation in the economic activity is widening, the scope of public finance has also been increasing. Generation of employment opportunities, control of economic fluctuations like boom and depression, maintaining economic stability etc. are some of the thrust areas of the governments through fiscal operations.


The subject matters of Public Finance can be broadly classified in to five categories –a) Public revenue b) Public expenditure c) Public debt d) Financial administration e) Economic stabilization and f) Federal Finance.

Public Revenue

The income of the states is referred to as Public Revenue. In this branch, we study the various ways of raising revenue by the public bodies. We also study the principles and effects of taxation and how the burden of taxation is shared among the various classes of society etc.

Public Expenditure

It deals with the principles and problems relating to the allocation of public spending. We study the fundamental principles governing the flow of public funds in to different channels, classification and justification of public expenditure; expenditure policies of governments and the measures adopted for welfare state etc.

Public Debt

The governments borrow when its revenue falls short of its expenditure. Public debts is a study of various principles and methods of raising debts and their economic effects. It also deals with the methods of repayments and managements of public debts.

Financial Administration

It deals with the methods of Budget preparation, various types of Budgets, war Finance, Development Finance etc. Thus, financial administration refers to the mechanism by which the financial functions are carried on. In other words, financial administration studies the organizing and disbursing of the finances of the State.

Economic stabilization and Growth

The use of Public revenue and Public expenditure to secure stability in levels of prices by controlling inflationary as well as deflationary pressures is studied. Similarly the income and expenditure policies adopted by the government so as to attain full employment, optimum use of resources, equitable distribution of income etc. are also studied.


Under federal finance we study the principles and policies governing the distribution of functions and funds among the public authorities in a federal set up. In a federal set up there are different levels of governments-centre, state and local.

Public Finance and Private Finance

The understanding and the study of public finance is facilitated by a comparison of the public or government finance with private or individual finance. Such a comparison will help us to know how the aims and objectives and methods of public Finance operation are similar or differed from the financial operations of the individual.


  1. Both the State as well as individual aim at the satisfaction of human wants through their financial operations. The individuals spend their income to satisfy their personal wants whereas the state spends for the satisfaction of communal or social wants.
  2. Both the States and Individual at times have to depend on borrowing, when their expenditures are greater than incomes
  3. Both Public Finance and Private Finance have income and expenditure. The ultimate aim of both is to balance their income and expenditure.
  4. For both kinds of finances, the guiding principle is rationality. Rationality is in the sense that maximization of personal benefits and social benefits through corresponding expenditure.
  5. Both are concerned with the problem of economic choice, that is, they try to satisfy unlimited ends with scarce resources having alternative uses.


  1. The private individual has to adjust his expenditure to his income. i.e., his expenditure is being determined by his income. But on the other hand the government first determines its expenditure and then the ways and means to raise the necessary revenue to meet the expenditure.
  2. The government has large sources of revenue than private individuals. Thus at the time of financial difficulties the state can raise internal loans from its citizens as well as external loans from foreign countries. In the case of private individual, all borrowings are external in nature.
  3. The state, when hard pressed, can resort to printing of currency, as an additional source of revenue. In fact, during emergencies like war, it meets its increased financial obligations by printing new currency. But an individual cannot raise income by creating money.
  4. The state prepares its budget or estimates its income and expenditure annually.  But there is no such limitation for an individual. It may be for weekly, monthly, or annually.
  5. A surplus budget is always good for a private individual. But surplus budgets may not be good for the government. It implies two things. a) The government is levying more taxes on the people than is necessary and b) the government is not spending as much as the welfare of the people as it should.
  6. The individual and state also differ in their motives regarding expenditure. The individuals hanker after profit. Their business operations are guided by private profit motive.  But the states expenditure is guided by the welfare motive.
  7. The private individual spends his income on various items in such a manner as to secure equi-marginal utilities from them.  The government on the contrary does not give as much importance to this law as a private individual does. Modern government sometimes incur cretin types of expenditure from which there do not derive any advantage but they do incur this expenditure to satisfy cretin sections of the community.
  8. Individuals always seek quick returns they save only a small amount for future and spend more to satisfy their current needs. Individual tend to think more on present as they are dead in the long run.Similarly they seldom spend if it does not yield any money income. On the other hand, State has a long term perspective of its expenditure. It does not care only for immediate benefit. State spends on projects having long gestation period. The burden of taxation is borne by the present generation in the interest of long run welfare of the community. Similarly sometimes government may have to spend on schemes which may not yield any money income at all (e.g. Public Health).
  9. An individual’s spending policy has very little impact on the society as a whole. But the state can change the nature of an economy through its fiscal policies.
  10. The pattern of expenditure in the case of private finance is often influence by customs, habits social status etc. The pattern of government expenditures is guided by the general economic policy followed by the government.
  11. Private Finance is always a secret affair. Individual need not reveal their financial transactions to anyone except for filing tax returns. But Public Finance is an open affair. Government budget is widely discussed in the parliament and out sides. Public accountability is an important feature of public finance.
  12. Individuals can plan to postpone their private expenditure. But the state cannot afford to put off vital expenditure like defence, famine relief etc. Findlay Shiraz says that compulsory character is an important future of public finance. 

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