Exchequer returns for the three months of 2014 show tax revenues were 4.7% higher when compared to the same period of last year.

The latest figures also show Government spending was 5.8% lower than the corresponding period in 2013.

Total revenue in the first quarter was €12.4 billion, while total spending in the quarter was €14.7 billion, leaving an Exchequer deficit of €2.3 billion.

This was an improvement of €1.4 billion compared with the first quarter of 2013.

Overall, tax receipts are running ahead of Budget targets for the first three months of the year.  

Income tax was up 3.5% compared with the same period a year ago, and is 0.1% ahead of target for this year.

Meanwhile the VAT take is 6.4% ahead of last year and 1.6% higher than expected; an indication of increased spending in the economy.

Excise duties also performed strongly in the first quarter, mainly as a result of strong car sales.  

That category is now 11.5% higher than the first quarter of 2013, and 11.2% higher than expected.

A large payment of Local Property Tax in March - mainly due to single debit authority payments - meant €214 million in LPT has been collected in the first three months of the year, 1.1% more than expected.

Government spending is down €631 million compared with last year, and is 2.5% lower than targeted, with 14 of the 16 Government Departments at or below profile for spending.  

The Department of Health spent €49 million more than expected in the first quarter, but the Department of Social Welfare under-spent by €149 million or 4.9%, possibly due to a falling number of social welfare claimants