Exchequer returns for January show tax revenues increased by more than 7% when compared with the same month last year.

Increased consumer spending in November and December, and the surge in new car sales last month brought in most of the extra money.

The Government collected €4.5bn in taxes last month, which is 7.3% more than in the same month a year ago.

Of the extra €308m that represents, €130m came from VAT for the pre-Christmas sales period, an annual increase of 6.5%.

A very strong surge in car sales last month pushed excise duty up by almost 29%, or €111m, and an extra €131m was collected in income tax - a rise of 8.7%.

Meanwhile, Local Property Tax and corporation tax were both significantly down on a year ago, but January is the least important month for corporation tax, as the majority of it is usually paid later in the year.

Commenting on the figures Minister For Finance Michael Noonan said: "Today’s Exchequer Returns and in particular the performance of income tax, VAT and excise highlight the progress that has been made stabilising the public finances and growing the economy.

"The Government’s focus on job creation and making work pay is benefiting families across the Country and is increasing activity and spending in the domestic economy," he added.

Tax partner at Grant Thornton Peter Vale said the most relevant figures from the Exchequer returns are the VAT and income tax receipts.

Mr Vale said: "Both VAT and income tax receipts are buoyant and reflect the improved conditions in the domestic economy.

"The VAT figures reflect positive consumer confidence, with both “Black Friday” and Christmas spending contributing to VAT receipts that are over €100m ahead of last year.

"Today’s figures don’t reflect January spending and we should see strong VAT receipts in March reflecting the January sales," he added.