A DEFICIT of $32.2 billion was recorded for the first five months of the financial year, it was announced yesterday. The figure as of August 31 compared with the $21.6 billion deficit reported at the end of July. Government spending from April to August amounted to $89.3 billion, while revenue was $57.1 billion. Fiscal reserves stood at $412.1 billion at August 31, a 2.51 per cent drop from the July figure. Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has forecast a deficit of $6.2 billion for 2000-01. A government spokesman said an early deficit was not unusual as much revenue, including taxes, was received towards the end of a financial year. A working group consisting of Finance Bureau officers and Mr Tsang is studying the tax issue and a report is expected next year. The Government has also set up an advisory committee to determine if there is a need to introduce broad-based taxes, such as a sales tax. Meanwhile, it was revealed yesterday that 10,000 property owners can expect financial relief after challenging the Government's rates assessments. About 50,000 owners lodged appeals with the Rating and Valuation Department, believing they had been overcharged.