Figures released by the government show that the exchequer recorded a deficit of just under €3.2 billion at the end of April, €238 million lower than at the same period last year.

Revenue from taxes came in broadly at the level that it was expected to, with €15.6 billion received in the first four months of the year.

That represents an increase of 5.7% or €833 million on the same period in 2018.

When combined with non-tax and other revenues, the total revenue received between January and April was €17.05 billion, up 7.4% on the same period last year.

Income tax receipts came in at the predicted level for the month, but in total the amount of money received from workers since the start of the year is slightly under the target set by the Government.

Nonetheless, income tax revenue is 6.6% higher than it was at this time in 2018, the Department of Finance said.

Excise Duties were considerably higher than had been anticipated for the month, owing to the ending of the front-loading of tobacco products by tobacco companies ahead of the introduction of plain packaging.

As a result, excise receipts came in at €593 million for the month, compared to a target of €112 million.

Corporation tax receipts were €110 million behind what had been estimated in April, as a result of higher than expected repayments.

But overall for the year corporation tax revenue is €157 million higher than it was at this point one year ago.

VAT revenue was also lower than had been anticipated due to higher than expected repayments, but is ahead by €147 million or 3.0% compared to the first four months of last year.

Planned spending was 5.3% or €817 million higher than it was at the end of April a year ago, roughly in line with expectations as they were set out in the Budget.

However, additional spending, at €4.02 billion was 2.9% or €115 million higher over the four months, compared to a year earlier.

This extra expenditure was caused in the main, the Department of Finance said, by increases in Irish payments to the EU and the timing of those payments.

Elsewhere, €90 million was collected in Motor Tax in April, up 7.5% against what had been anticipated, with cumulative receipts of €356 million for far this year, €10 million ahead of 2018.

While Stamp Duty receipts were €104 million in the month, €10 million lower than targeted, but 6.6% ahead of the same period in 2018.