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Income tax targets not being met despite fall in jobless total

The Government's targets for tax from workers are not being met even though unemployment is falling rapidly.

Official figures put the jobless number at 135,800, a rate of 6.2%, but at the same time the Department of Finance revealed it was 19 million euro (£16 million) short in its forecasts for income tax for last month.

Unemployment is now at a nine-year low, according to the Central Statistics Office, which prompted claims the rate could fall below 6% this year.

The Department of Finance said the Universal Social Charge was also behind target, mainly in the first two months of the year, and investigations are continuing with the Revenue Commissioners into why.

Elsewhere, VAT receipts were up 602 million euro (£509 million), or 14.5%, on the same time last year.

Mary Mitchell O'Connor, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, said the country was going in the right direction to hit full employment.

"Seeing the unemployment rate for April drop down to 6.2% from 6.4% last month, and from 8.4% this time last year, is very positive," she said.

"It is important that we continue with our policies to ensure that job creation continues to grow right across the country.

"As we know, being able to earn a livelihood is all-important, allowing people to take charge of their future, to make plans and to have hope and optimism.

"I would like everyone to have that opportunity for self-determination and fulfilment through employment."

The CSO report revealed 6.7% of men are unemployed compared with 5.5% of women.

Youth unemployment remains high, with 12.9% of people aged 15 to 24 classed as being out of work.

Davy Stockbrokers said if the current rate of falls in unemployment continues, it could drop below 5% by the end of this year.

The firm said the rapid and sustained recovery in the jobs market is allowing household spending to become a key driver of economic growth in the coming months.

Despite the buoyant figures, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Isme) again warned of the damage high costs are having on the sector.

Chief executive Neil McDonnell said: "If the Government is to attain the Holy Grail figures of unemployment below 6%, and unemployment for long-term claimants below 2.5% by 2020, they must focus attention on reducing the costs of doing business and the cost of living."

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