Public finances in the red by €7.9bn.

The public finances are in the red by €7.9bn so far this year, according to the latest Exchequer figures, which were released this afternoon.

Today’s figure compares to a surplus of €1.5bn this time last year.

Tax revenue is €7.4bn behind target for the year up to the end of November. VAT was €2.1bn behind target, with Capital Gains Tax €1.7bn less than expected. Corporation Tax was €1.5bn below target, with Stamp Duty figures also €1bn less than projected.

Speaking to the Dáil as the Department of Finance launched the latest Exchequer returns, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said November was another bad month for tax returns.

During Leaders' Questions, the opposition again criticised the Government for the state of the economy and called for a reduction in the rate of VAT.

The Taoiseach meanwhile warned of further bad times ahead.

“There will be a deterioration on the 5.5% projected deficit for this year,” Mr Cowen told the Dáil.

“It’s because of the slowdown in the economy and the fact that the reduction in taxation is not just in relation to property-related taxes but also other taxes that have performed disappointingly.”

Most Read in Ireland