Belfast Telegraph

14.4bn euro 'black hole' revealed

The Government has announced a 14.4 billion euro black hole in the public purse despite better than expected tax returns.

The latest Exchequer figures showed the State collected 243 million euro more in levies than expected, 1% ahead of the estimates.

Finance officials said payments from businesses for corporation tax dramatically boosted the Revenue books last month while the income tax intake remained low.

Joan Burton, Labour's finance spokesman, said it was cold comfort with the cost of Government borrowing on international bond markets soaring to new highs.

"The truth is that Ireland is now set to post a world-beating deficit this year equal to nearly a third the size of the entire economy," she said.

Ms Burton said another 800m euro in tax could be found by immediately shutting all property based tax relief and reducing relief for millionaire pension pots.

Despite the criticism the Department of Finance insisted forecasts for Budget 2011 would be met.

"The overall Exchequer position for the first ten months of the year means that the Budget Day targets remain valid," said the Department of Finance.

Officials noted next month was the most important of the year for tax revenues, with 15% of the annual target due for collection.

Arthur Morgan, Sinn Fein's finance spokesman, said the poor income tax figures showed the Government's policy of cuts was wrong.

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