Belfast Telegraph

State finances billions in the red

The State's finances were 13.3 billion euro in the red even though the Government took in more tax than expected.

The latest Exchequer figures showed revenue officials took in 470 million euro more in levies than estimated.

The Department of Finance said a higher-than-predicted corporation tax intake combined with smaller surpluses in excise and VAT offset falls in income tax.

Despite the better than expected returns, taxes are still 1.3 billion euro below the first 11 months of last year.

Michael Noonan, Fine Gael finance spokesman, said the figures exposed a deep divide in Irish society, revealing the hardship now facing huge numbers of Irish families.

"On one side, the multinational sector and large companies are enjoying a moderate resurgence," Mr Noonan said.

"But large numbers of Irish families have been stranded on the other side of this divide. The income tax take revealed in the latest Exchequer figures has again come in under target, with a shortfall of 3.3% for the month. The ongoing fall in income tax reflects the record numbers left languishing on the live register, and the overall weakness of the employment market."

Striking a more conciliatory tone, Joan Burton, Labour's Finance spokeswoman, said that after three years of haemorrhaging tax revenues there was now evidence Exchequer figures were stabilising.

"Due to the continuing depressed state of the economy, tax receipts are 646 million euro, or 4.1%, down on 2010 for the year to date," Ms Burton said.

"This serves to underline the challenge facing any government in meeting the onerous repayments negotiated by the Fianna Fail government in their bailout agreement with the EU-IMF troika. "

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