Tax take up 7.3pc for January as unemployment falls
The Government collected over €300m more in taxes in the first month of 2016 than it did in January of last year, the latest exchequer returns show.
About €4.5bn was taken into the State's coffers, up 7.3pc on the €4.2bn collected in January 2015.
Income tax receipts were €1.6bn to the end of January, a year-on-year increase of 8.7pc.
The Department of Finance said the improvement in income tax was consistent with the recovering labour market, employment growth and increases in average weekly earnings.
About €2.1bn was collected in VAT, with January regarded as a key month as it relates to the Christmas trading season. VAT receipts were up 6.6pc compared with last year.
And VRT also helped push up the tax take, with excise duties totalling €500m, representing a 28.7pc surge on the same period last year due to a combination of factors including a strong VRT performance in the month.
Corporation tax receipts were €24m last month, down from €49m in January of last year. The Department of Finance said January was not a significant month for corporation tax receipts.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the figures highlighted the effort made in stabilising the economy.
"Overall, taxes have grown by 7.3pc in January. This is an improvement when compared to the same period last year and to the Budget 2016 projection of a 5.8pc increase in tax take for 2016," he said.
"Taken in conjunction with today's fall in the unemployment rate to 8.6pc (the lowest since December 2008), it is clear that the strong end to 2015 for the economy is continuing into 2016."
Experts hailed the Exchequer figures showing tax revenues starting the year on a strong footing.
"At this early stage at least, tax revenues are in line with the Government's full-year forecast of a 5.8pc gain," said David McNamara, economist with Dublin-based Davy Stockbrokers.
The data also showed that, at the end of January, the Exchequer recorded a surplus of €1.19bn compared with a surplus of €781m in the same period last year.
The department said the €418m improvement in the Exchequer balance was driven by increased tax receipts and reduced spending.
The cost of servicing the national debt last month was €255m, a year-on-year decrease of €30m, or 10.6pc.
Net voted current expenditure was €256m lower than in January 2015, with the Department of Social Protection accounting for €182m of the decline.
Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin said the economic momentum of last year had been carried into 2016.
"While it is too early to read anything significant into the spending figures, ministers are well aware of the importance of meeting their targets this year," he said.