Figures from the Department of Finance show that total tax receipts in the first four months of this year were slightly ahead of expectations.

The figures also show that the gap between Government borrowing and spending in the period was €9.9 billion, up from just under €7 billion in the same period last year.

Total tax receipts of €9.6 billion were just over €100m or 1% ahead of targets set out earlier this year. The Department of Finance said three of the big four tax categories performed ahead of expectations.

The income tax take of €4.1 billion was 1.5% ahead of expectations, helped by earlier than expected DIRT payments in April. Income tax had been behind target at the end of March. But VAT was still just over 3% or €107m behind target at €3.4 billion. Corporation tax was 32% better than expected, while excise duties were 3.4% ahead of target.

Income tax receipts have been boosted by the inclusion of the universal social charge, meaning they are also 20% ahead of the same peiod last year, but the department says income tax is still 4.9% ahead of a year earlier without the USC.

Total spending was €14.8 billion, €277m below target. Current spending is slightly below projections, but capital spending is 7.4% short. The department blames the capital shortfall on timing issues.

The total cost of servicing the country's debt in the first four months was just over €2.7 billion.

The Exchequer deficit was swollen by €3 billion paid to Anglo Irish and Irish Nationwide, the first portion of the money committed to the two institutions last year.