Exchequer returns for April show the tax take for the year to date is running some €222m - or 2% - ahead of target.

However the tax take for April alone was €35 million - or 1.5% - below the amount expected for the month, mainly due to weakness in income tax and excise returns.

A stronger-than-expected performance in VAT and Local Property Tax payments helped to improve the picture.

Compared with the same month last year, the tax take in April was up by €197 million, or 9.2%

For the four months to the end of April, the tax take was €612 million of 5.6% better than in the same period in 2013. 

Income tax returns in the period were 7.2% higher than they were in 2013, reflecting higher numbers in work. 

Compared with the target for this year, income tax receipts - at €5.4bn - are running 2%, or €106 million ahead of target.  

The VAT take of €3.65bn is 1.4% - or €451m - below target.  Corporation Tax and excise duty, the last of the "big four" tax heads, are both ahead of target.

The Local Property Tax has raised €260m so far this year, 7.2% ahead of a target of €243m.