The Government’s tax take has almost doubled since the low point of the crash in 2010, according to the latest exchequer returns.

They show that the Government collected a record €59 billion in taxes last year, exceeding the 2018 performance by 6.8 per cent or €3.75 billion.

This was nearly double the €31 billion collected in 2010, underlining the turnaround in the State’s finances.

The Department of Finance said taxation receipts last year were also €1.4 billion ahead of expectations, thanks to another strong influx of corporation tax.

The business tax generated a record €10.9 billion in 2019, €1.4 billion above profile, and is now the Government’s third-largest tax category.

The strong performance will see the Government run a budgetary surplus of about €1.5 billion for 2019, which corresponds to about 0.4 per cent of GDP, up from the expected 0.2 per cent set out in October.

Department of Finance chief economist John McCarthy said the €1.5 billion surplus would be used to boost the cash balances of the State’s debt-managing agency, the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA).

“Ultimately when it works through the system it will reduce debt from what would otherwise have been the case,” he said.

The Government is aiming to achieve a surplus of 1 per cent of GDP by 2022, equal to as much as €3.6 billion a year.

Corporation tax

The Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said: “Running budgetary surpluses is the first line of defence when it comes to our over-reliance on corporation taxation receipts. In other words, ‘excess’ corporation tax receipts are not being used to finance day-to-day spending but to reduce debt.”

The Irish Fiscal Advisory Council (IFAC) has criticised the Government for using excess or potentially temporary corporation tax receipts to paper over cracks in its spending plans.