Corporation tax receipts were €1.4 billion ahead of expectations, totalling €10.9 billion in 2019 and boosting the overall tax take rise by almost 7%.

The surplus is on the back of corporation tax on company profits with the Government collecting a record €59.3 billion.

These tax receipts have more than doubled in five years

The performance resulted in a surplus of 0.4% of GDP, up from the expected 0.2% set out in October. This will bolster the Exchequer going into this year and will help reduce, over time, the overall level of public borrowing.

The Government is aiming to achieve a surplus of 1% of GDP by 2022, equal to as much as €3.6 billion a year.

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Last month, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe announced his intention to continue to run budget surpluses over the next several years.

The budget watchdog, the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, has been critical in the past that bumper corporation tax receipts were used to fund current spending and not put aside as surpluses.

Total net voted expenditure was just over €54 billion, up 7.3% on the previous year. It included a 5.3% increase in current spending and a 22.2% increase in capital spending. 

Peter Vale, Tax Partner at Grant Thornton Ireland, said, "Undoubtedly, the big talking point of the 2019 tax figures is a corporation tax surplus of €1.4 billion over forecast.  Corporate tax receipts have more than doubled in five years, with a focus now on the sustainability of these returns, particularly given that a relatively small number of large multinational companies make up a significant chunk of the corporate tax take."

He said the high receipts in 2019 are all the more remarkable in the context of ongoing global trade wars and economic uncertainty. "In this context, there should be optimism that 2020 corporate tax receipts will at least hit 2019 levels."