Returns reflect low activity
The dreadful November Exchequer Returns, which show that the Government's tax take was 1.6pc below target for the first 11 months of the year, will have come as no surprise to anyone who has been keeping even an occasional eye on the performance of the domestic economy.
With retail sales down by a further 4pc over the past 12 months, unemployment continuing to rise and almost a fifth of all mortgages either in arrears and/or having been restructured, the domestic economic activity upon which the Government relies to generate most of its tax revenue has been extremely subdued.
While a 1.6pc shortfall may not seem like an awful lot, it adds up to €520m. Fortunately for the Irish taxpayer there was an even bigger shortfall in public spending, over €1bn, over the same period. This means that Michael Noonan won't have to squeeze a further €520m out of the economy in next week's Budget.