Impact of a quiet Christmas reflected in January Exchequer returns

Feb 08, 2021

Exchequer returns for January show a €425 million year-on-year deterioration in the Exchequer balance. January is the first month to reflect the impact of Level 5 restrictions in late 2020. With January being a VAT remittance month, the Exchequer surplus of €1.2 billion in January is positively skewed by €2 billion. Despite this, VAT receipts are down €340 million, reflecting the impact of restrictions on the traditionally busy Christmas period.

The January Exchequer results are summarised as follows:

  • Tax revenues in January were down €520 million, or nearly 9 percent, on the same month last year;
  • VAT receipts are down €340 million, or nearly 13 percent reflecting the November and late-December restrictions;
  • Excise duties fell €100 million, or 20 percent;
  • Income tax receipts remain robust, up €85 million, or just under 4 percent on January 2020;
  • Total gross voted expenditure in January was €6.3 billion, €630 million, or 11 percent ahead on the same period last year;
  • Spending by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection was up €800 million year-on-year;
  • January is an outlier month as it is the final month in which Pandemic Unemployment Payments will be entirely funded via non-Exchequer sources (Social Insurance Fund);
  • There was an Exchequer surplus of €1.2 billion in January. This position will be entirely reversed next month; and
  • The 12-month rolling Exchequer deficit – a better indicator of the trend — stands at €12.7 billion.

Further information on the January Exchequer returns can be found on gov.ie and in the Fiscal Monitor report.