Figures from the Department of Finance show that the gap between government borrowing and spending was just over €483m in January, down from €780m in the same month last year.

The total tax take for the month was €3.1 billion, up €57m or 1.9% compared with January last year. The department said this was in line with expectations. Spending was almost €200m, or 4.8%, lower at €3.9 billion.

A breakdown of the tax figures showed that €987m in income tax was taken in, down 6.2% or €65m from a year earlier. The income tax returns do not fully reflect the income tax rise and universal social charge introduced in the Budget, which will appear only in the February figures.

Corporation tax jumped almost 78% to €72m, while VAT was up 3.6% to almost €1.7 billion. Excise duties were 8.2% higher at €281m, but capital gains tax was down almost a third at €18m. Stamp duties were 39% up at €41m. The Government is forecasting 9.9% growth in tax revenues for 2011 as a whole.

Read more details of the tax figures here

On the spending side, day-to-day spending in January was €3.7 billion, up 0.7%, but capital spending was down more than 50% at €214m, though the department says this figure is not that relevant so early in the year as much capital spending is of a one-off nature.