Headline figure on Tax Receipts is €26,118mln collected in Q3 2012 against profile of €25,733mln a surplus over the profile of 1.5%. However, in January-August 2012 the same surplus was 1.7% and January-June 2012 it was running at 3.1% surplus on target. In other words, target is being met, but performance is deteriorating and the Department is correct to sound cautiously here, constantly reiterating the importance of Q4 in terms of receipts delivery. The cushion as it stands at the end of September was €385 million on profile.
Year on year headline figure shows improvement in 9 months through September (up 8.4% on unadjusted basis, and up 6.2% on adjusted basis) compared to 8 months through August (7.7% on unadjusted basis and 5.2% on adjusted basis). This is the good news for the Exchequer.
On adjusted basis, tax revenues are up €1,491 mln in Q3 2012, having been up €1,063 mln in 8 months through August. This suggests that September monthly performance was pretty robust even once we adjust for the various reclassifications of tax revenues.
Now, let's try to see what is going on behind the headlines.
Adjustments - covering reclassifications of USC and delayed accounting for corporate tax receipts (carryover from 2011) - were running at €511 million in 8 months through August 2012. In Q1-Q3 2012 these were booked at €529 million - a suspiciously low differential for the whole month. I noted the same suspicion back in August.
In addition, the Department seemingly does not account for reclassification of the Corporate Tax receipts from 2011 to 2012 in full. Instead, the Department does subtract the revenues booked in 2012 due to carry over from 2011 from 2012 figures, but it does not add these carry over amounts back into 2011 comparative Corporation Tax figure.
On non-tax revenues side, banking-related receipts are running at €2.057bn in 9 months through September 2012 against €1.643bn in the same period 2011.Semi-states dividends (another indirect tax on the economy) are at €88mln against €31mln in 2011. Pensions levies are at €11mln against €8.6mln in 2011. Adjusting for banks receipts alone (see my August note as to why such adjustments are warranted), total current receipts (tax and non-tax) are at €26,471mln in January-September 2012 against €24,455 in the same period 2011 (+8.25% y/y).
Now, adding to these adjustments on tax revenues (explained above), total adjusted current receipts are up 6.1% y/y, not the 9.3% headlined in the exchequer figures.
Excluding the Sinking Fund transfers (deficit neutral), Capital Receipts are down at €813 mln in 9 months through September 2012 compared to €1,038mln in the same period 2011.
Let's combine all receipts ex-Sinking Fund receipts:
- Official numbers are: Total tax and Non-Tax Current and Capital Receipts amounted to €29.342bn in January-September 2012, up 8.13% on the same period 2011 (€27.136bn).
- Adjusting for Banks-related receipts and adjusting for tax revenues reclassifications, total receipts amounted to €26.755bn in 2012 and €25.655bn in 2011 (January-September periods), a rise of 4.29% y/y or €1.1bn.
- The above is still an impressive performance, given stagnant economy, but it is a far cry from what is needed to close the funding gap for the Exchequer.
- Critically, while tax performance cushion on target is getting thinner, it is still positive and is likely to stay non-negative through Q4 2012. In other words, it appears that we will deliver on targets on tax revenue side. This represents the reversal to some threats emerging in July-August.