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Exchequer €1.8bn ahead of targets

The State's finances are €1.8bn better than had been expected at the time Budget 2014 was delivered in October last year.

The latest exchequer returns show a surge in taxes paid by companies and the self-employed.

"The economy is growing, more people are at work and this is reflected in the exchequer figures," said Finance Minister Michael Noonan (above). "November is the final due month for VAT and performance has been strong in the year to date, with receipts up €575m year-on-year."

"November is also an important month for corporation tax and again there was an increase of €240m on the same period last year," he added.

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin said Ireland is set to "comfortably" meet its budget deficit target at the end of the year.

Analysts also hailed yesterday's announcement. "The figures for VAT, which reflect activity in September and October, indicate a cautious return to spending," Grant Thornton's Peter Vale said.