Belfast Telegraph

State books opened for IMF review

State coffers are 7.1 billion euro in the red as Government books are opened again for International Monetary Fund inspectors.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan warned the tax take would have to be closely watched as VAT and income tax appeared weak.

Official figures from the Department of Finance said the tax take between January and March was 7.5 billion euro - 270 million euro above the same period last year.

But revenues were 136 million euro lower than expected with VAT and income tax not performing as strongly as hoped.

With officials from the IMF and Europe due to arrive on Tuesday to review the State's books, Mr Noonan said financial figures are hitting targets set in the multibillion-euro international bailout.

But the minister warned: "Today's figures show a mixed performance in the individual tax categories.

"VAT and income tax have shown signs of weakness and, given their importance, their performance will need to be closely monitored in the coming months."

The three-month report revealed income tax and VAT returns were 125 million euro and 179 million euro lower than expected.

The poor return was offset by better-than-predicted excise duty and corporation tax returns, coming in at 60 million euro and 78 million euro over target.

Mr Noonan said that while the poor VAT and income tax returns were a concern, the targets set out in last December's budget remain on track.

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