Exchequer returns for February show a shortfall in Income Tax and VAT receipts – but these are largely offset by a bigger than expected payments of Corporation Tax.

In February, €1.6 billion in Income tax was collected –  €156 million lower than expected.  The Department of Finance says this is mainly due to some late payments of tax, and to lower than expected payments of tax on unearned income.

VAT was €103 million below target, but February is not a "VAT due" month.  The department says there was also a lot of VAT refunds paid out during the month.

February is not an important month for Corporation Tax, but the tax brought in much more money than expected – €272 million, which is €194 million more than expected.

Excise duty was €11m lower than expected, and Stamp Duty €9 million below target.

Overall, the cumulative tax take for the first two months of the year is below target by just 50 million or 0.6%. This is still 3.7% higher than the same period last year.

Spending in the year to date was €7.9 billion, an increase of 8.1% compared to the same period last year.