Expenditure continues to rise but tax receipts bode well for recovery – Donohoe & McGrath

5th May, 2021

  • Today’s Exchequer figures show that tax revenues in April were €3.1 billion, over €220 million, or 8 per cent, higher than profiled and 20 per cent up on the same month last year;
  • Income tax receipts remain robust, €60 million or 3 per cent over profile and just under 13 per cent higher than in April 2020;
  • Similarly, excise duties were €44 million or 10 per cent above profile and nearly 60 per cent up on a year-on-years basis;
  • Total gross voted expenditure to end-April was €26.7 billion, €800 million or 3 per cent ahead of profile and up €2.2 billion on the same period last year;
  • Spending by the Department of Social Protection to-date is €1.6 billion or 17 per cent over profile and up €2.3 billion year-on-year;
  • The 12-month rolling Exchequer deficit stands at just under €12.5 billion.


An Exchequer deficit of €7,629 million was recorded to end-April 2021. This compares to a deficit of €7,473 million in the same period last year. The €156 million year-on-year deterioration in the Exchequer balance is driven by an increase in public expenditure. The 12-month rolling Exchequer deficit, a much better indicator of the trend, is €12,472 million.


Income tax receipts continued to be robust in April, ending the month €62 million or 3 per cent higher than profiled. On a cumulative basis, income tax receipts are €469 million, or 6.2 per cent, higher than the same period last year. April is a non-VAT-due month but on a cumulative basis VAT receipts of €4,682 million are €68 million, or 1.5 per cent, higher than profiled and 10.9 per cent higher year-on-year. Excise duties of €484 million were received in April, €44 million, or 10.1 per cent, higher than profiled and 56.9 per cent higher than April 2020.  April is not a significant month for corporation tax receipts and returns were negative following the deduction of Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) payments. Excluding CRSS payments, corporation tax receipts would have been €52 million in the month. Such large increases in tax are to be expected as our tax-base now includes the pandemic and the first lockdown of wave one.



Total gross voted expenditure to end-April was €26,686 million, €794 million or 3.1 per cent ahead of profile and €2,226 million or 9.1 per cent ahead on the same period in 2020. Spending by the Department of Social Protection was up €2,323 million year-on-year to end-April, mainly due to the cost of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS).


Commenting on the figures, the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe T.D. said: ‘Today’s figures show the continuing impact of the pandemic on our public finances. We continue to borrow heavily on a monthly basis to support incomes and businesses through the pandemic’.


“While the cost to the Exchequer has been substantial, today’s figures also show some of the underlying strengths in our economy with income taxes and excise duties, in particular, continuing to perform well. The flexibility and adaptability shown by employers and employees throughout this pandemic has been extraordinary. Today’s figures suggest that as the economy opens up they can look forward to brighter days and a sustained recovery ahead”.


The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath T.D. said: ‘The start of 2021 has been very difficult for families, workers and business owners and that is reflected in the figures published today.  With a prolonged period of restrictions to fight the pandemic, Government expenditure has reached nearly €27 billion for the first four months of the year.  This is over €2 billion higher than for the same period last year and just under €800 million ahead of profile’.


“Thankfully, however, we now can see light at the end of the tunnel.  The vaccination programme is continuing at a more impressive pace as supplies have accelerated.  Last Friday a record 44,000 vaccines were administered in one day and the HSE vaccination portal is now open to the 50 to 59 year cohort.  Coinciding with the extraordinary measures people have endured, case numbers and critically hospital and ICU numbers have reduced and stabilised.  This all means that we are in a better position to gradually and safely reopen society. The recovery of our economy is now underway and this will gain momentum in the months ahead.


“Given the fact that the construction sector has been closed for a considerable period of time, capital expenditure is below what it was this time last year and 9% below profile at €1.6 billion.  We expect capital expenditure to pick up considerably in the months ahead now that the construction activity has fully resumed.”




Notes to editors:

  • Tax profiles for 2021, based on the Stability Programme Update, will be published in the coming days.
  • Tax revenue last year amounted to €57.2 billion.