Tax revenue drops 19% in 2009


The Government’s tax take plummeted to €33 billion last year, some €7.7 billion or 19 per cent down on 2008, the latest exchequer data shows.

The figures, released by the Department of Finance this evening, indicated tax revenue for the 12 months was €1.3 billion or 4 per cent lower than Government targets set in April.

Total net expenditure for the year was €47 billion, some €221 million or 0.5 per cent less than anticipated.

The data shows the hole in the public finances now stands at €24.6 billion, slightly better than the Government predicted in its December budget but nearly double the exchequer deficit of €12.7 billion recorded in 2008.

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan said the marginal improvement in the end-of-year position was “due to a better than anticipated performance in tax revenue in the month of December”.

Mr Lenihan said the "small improvement in the actual deficit" demonstrated that the action taken by Government in managing the public finances was working.

The figures indicated a significant fall-off in VAT receipts, which fell from €13.4 billion in 2008 to €10.6 billion last year on the back of poor consumer demand.

Income tax revenue was also hit by the rising tide of unemployment, falling from €13.1 billion in 2008 to €10.8 billion last year.

"We were encouraged by the measures introduced in last month's budget," Bloxham economist Alan McQuaid said.

"If the Government can continue to move in the direction it has taken, then there is every reason to be optimistic about its chances of stabilising the public finances over the next few years," he said.