Thursday, August 11, 2011

11/08/2011: Irish Exchequer receipts July 2011

August is a silly season, so forgive me for avoiding digging too deep into silly data. This includes the data on Exchequer spending and tax receipts. They are silly. Why? Because the shambolic rearranging of chairs on the deck of the proverbial Titanic - the so-called reforms of the Departments - has made historical references invalid. We no longer are able to check what the Government is really doing and instead are forced to rely on what the DofF is telling us that the Government is doing.

This means two things for this blog. One, I will still be updating the datasets on spending, but will do this over longer time horizon spans than monthly. And I will still be updating tax receipts figures, which are, at least, more consistent than spending figures.

Here are the latest figures for August.

Total tax revenues for January-July 2011 was €18.633 billion which is €1.48 billion or 8.63% higher than in the same period last year. According to the DofF note, "This year-on-year increase was due primarily to higher income tax receipts, arising from the Budget 2011 measures, including the introduction of the USC. Excise duties, corporation tax, customs duties and stamp duties all recorded year-on-year increases also."


Overall, income tax rose to €7,277mln in 7 months of the year on 5,81mln collected in the same period of 2010 - a 25.1% increase. Again, as mentioned above, this includes USC measures. Income tax receipts are now up 14.5% on same period of 2009 and in fact are ahead of the same period of 2007, but again, this is surely due to transfer of USC.
Sadly, enough, they wouldn't tell us just how much of this increase was organic (out of old tax revenues) and how much due to USC. The note on spending attributes €604mln to USC on the side of the expenditure adjustments. So carrying the same over to tax receipts side implies that non-USC related tax measures in Budget 2011 have lifted tax revenue by €876mln so far in the year or annualized rate of tax increases of ca €1.5 billion. This arithmetic suggests that income tax receipts in Jan-Jul 2011 were around €6,673mln or still below 2008 and 2007 levels.

Adjusting total tax receipts for the above estimate of USC puts total receipts at €18,029 - a level 5.1% ahead of 2010 and 3.53% below 2009 figures. Not exactly a spectacular improvement in the 4th year of the crisis and after 3 years of austerity budgets. And not exactly spectacular improvement given that officially, per our Government claims, we are out of the recession now since Q4 2010.

The Government loves targets, even if the objectives they set are unambitious enough to be able to deliver on them. In this department, we are doing ok. Tax revenues were €263 mln (1.4%) above target. Income tax was €160 mln or 2.2% above target at end-July, but, per DofF own admission, "excluding the beneficial impact of earlier than expected DIRT payments, both in April and July, income tax was a little below target in the first seven months. That said, the underlying performance of income tax in recent months has been encouraging, with the targets for both June and July marginally bettered."

Enough said about targets. Back to data.

Vat came in below 2010 levels at January-July 2011 receipts of €6,399mln against 2010 period receipts of €6,478. The shortfall now stands at 8.07% on 2009 and 1.22% yoy. So as the chart below shows, Vat is trending along the worst year on history - 2010.

Corporate tax revenues were €1,648mln which is a vast improvement of a whooping €23mln (what the Dail spends on expenses, roughly) yoy (+1.42%). Corporation tax is now down 12.57% on same period 2009 which was the best year for this line of tax receipts in 2007-present period.

Excise duties recorded a €101mln (4.05%) surplus in the first seven months of the year relative to 2010, which translates into 0.54% increase on the same period of 2009.

The rest of the tax heads were all over the shop. Stamps improved by 23.9% yoy, but remain marginal and the improvement was due to timing factors. CGT and CAT are both down (and both are extremely marginal in size), suggesting that capital investment in the economy remains on downward trajectory. Customs were up 9.9% yoy - potentially due to increased improting activity in May-June 2011 as MNCs beefed up their stocks of inputs.

So overall picture on tax receipts side suggests:
  1. Extremely poor performance on Vat and capital taxes - implying no domestic consumption or investment pickups;
  2. Lackluster performance on income tax (ex-USC), with receipts stable around 2008-2009 levels
  3. Mediocre performance on corpo tax, despite strong production activity in the MNCs-dominated exporting sectors
  4. Transactions taxes running within 2009-2010 performance readings.
Things are, therefore, stable - in a 'the dead can't dance' way.
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