The latest exchequer figures show the tax take for the year to date was €520 million, or 1.6%, below target.

Weaker than expected income tax, corporation tax and VAT returns were the main causes of the shortfall. November is the most important tax month of the year, and today's returns have a key role in shaping the Budget.

The State collected €31.8 billion in taxes in the first 11 months of this year, but this was half a billion less than hoped.

It has spent €40.7bn - about a billion less than planned.

The budget deficit is now €21.4bn, which includes €3.1bn in promissory note payments for Anglo Irish Bank, and €7.6bn for bank recapitalisation.

Some €5.5bn in tax was scheduled for collection in November, but the final tally fell short by €337m, leaving the total 1.6% below target for the year to date.

Income Tax is 2.1% below target, after a €147m shortfall in November, the key month for self employed returns.

The VAT take was below target for the sixth consecutive month, with a shortfall of €81m in November. The shortfall for the year to date is now €464m or 4.6% below target.

Part of the weakness is accounted for by the VAT cuts as part of the jobs initiative, but much of it is due to weaker spending.

Corporation tax is 6.3% below target. November is also the key month for corporation tax payments, which were €127m below target for the month, and €236m off target for the year to date.

Excise duties - the third biggest source of tax - are €15m - or 0.4% ahead of target.

Budget address

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny is to make a pre-budget televised address on Sunday night.

It will be broadcast after the 9pm news on RTE1.