Exchequer returns show that the amount of money collected in tax by the Government in the period to the end of May is 2.8% or €386m ahead of target.

The Government collected €14.396bn in taxes, with income tax 3.1% ahead of forecasts.

There was a budget surplus in the month of May of €603m, which means that the budget deficit to the end of May is €6.53bn.

The cost of servicing the national debt was €111m less than expected at just under €4bn, which is €1.95bn more than it was by the same point in 2011.

Corporation tax is also up - 17.8% ahead of expectation - but that is largely due to a change in the method of calculation of corporation tax.

The amount collected in income tax thus far this year is 18.5% or €937m more than by the end of May last year.

The budget deficit of €6.53bn compares with a deficit of €10.231bn in the same period last year, but that is largely explained by the saving on the Anglo Promissory note, which accounts for €3.5bn of the difference.

Receipts from Capital Gains Tax stand at €167m at the end of May 2012, double the May 2011 figure of €83m.

The figures indicate that the amount of tax collected in the first five months of 2012 is €1.6bn, or 12.5% more than in the first five months in 2011.

When adjusted for delayed corporation tax receipts, the year-on-year growth was just under 9%.

Income tax receipts

The amount collected in income tax so far this year is 18.5% or €937m more than by the end of May last year.

Receipts from Capital Gains Tax stand at €167m at the end of May 2012, double the May 2011 figure of €83m.

Three of the big four taxes - income tax, VAT and corporation tax - were all ahead of expectations. Excise came in 2% under target.

Overall gross expenditure was €100m higher than expected.

Net current spending, at €17.89bn, was just over 2% ahead of that budgeted, due largely to overspend in Health and Social Protection.