Tax revenues up, spending down, new figures show

Howlin and Noonan say returns in line with improvement in the domestic economy

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said tax performance for the first three months was ‘in line with expectations’.   Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said tax performance for the first three months was ‘in line with expectations’. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Wed, Apr 2, 2014, 18:06

The public finances continue to improve, with tax revenues increasing and public expenditure on target, new figures show.

Tax revenues for the first quarter rose 4.7 per cent or €415 million year-on-year to €9.232 billion, according to the latest Exchequer returns, in line with Department of Finance targets.

Net voted expenditure was down 5.8 per cent to €10.264 billion compared to the first three months of 2013.

The Exchequer deficit at the end of the quarter stood at €2.316 billion, an improvement of €1.379 billion on the same time last year.

Commenting on the returns in a joint statement this afternoon, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said the figures represent “a solid start to the year”.

“In line with the improvement in the domestic economy, the reduction in the live register and the increase in employment levels, tax revenues are growing and expenditure on public services is within budget,” they said.

The Government is committed to reducing the deficit to below 3 per cent by 2015, they added.

Mr Noonan said tax performance for the first three months was “in line with expectations”.

Vat revenue increased by 6.4 per cent or €210 million year on year, while excise duties rose 11. 5 per cent, “reflecting improvements in the domestic economy, retail sales and consumer confidence”, he said.

Income tax receipts were up €129 million, or 3.5 per cent, as a result of “strong employment growth”.

“Finally, and as profiled, we are starting to see the impact of strong employment growth feeding through into income tax receipts,” he added.

Local property tax receipts of €214 million were collected in the first three months of the year, while capital gains tax was up €28 million or 40.9 per cent to €98 million in the period.

Mr Howlin said public spending was being well managed by Departments in accordance with levels agreed by Government in the budget.

“It is, however, early in the year and the Government is aware of the continuing need to keep overall expenditure on profile,” he said.