Exchequer returns for March have come in ahead of forecast; as income tax, VAT and Corporation Tax take were all higher than expected.

Almost €4.69 billion was taken in by the State during the month, €207m (4.6%) above target and €550 (13.3%) higher than in March 2018.

It brings tax take in the first three months of the year to almost €12.8 billion – €157m (1.2%) ahead of target and €843m (7.1%) higher than the same period of last year. 

During March over €2 billion was received in VAT – €104m more than anticipated. This went a long way towards undoing the shortfall in expected VAT take during January and February.

Income Tax was €8m ahead of target in March at €1.5 billion. It remains €171m behind target in the year to date, but is €305m higher than in the first three months of 2018.

Meanwhile Corporation Tax was once again well ahead of expectations with €354m received in March; €72m (25.7%) more than forecast.

That brings Corporation Tax take to €524m in the first quarter; more than twice what was anticipated for the period after Budget 2019. The Department of Finance said this was largely a timing issue, with the figure likely to move closer to expectations later in the year.

On the spending side, the Government's net voted expenditure stood just below €12 billion in the first three months of the year – €809m (7.2%) higher year-on-year but €321m (2.6%) lower than forecast after Budget 2019.

Meanwhile non-voted expenditure rose €188m (6.4%) year-on-year to €3.14 billion, largely due to an increase in the country's European Union contribution.

That left the Exchequer with a deficit of €966m for the first three months of the year – compared to €1.11 billion in the same period of 2018.