State had a budget surplus of €8.3bn last year, CSO data shows

Minister for Finance Michael McGrath said finances give Ireland options that are not open to many peer countries

There was a budget surplus of €8.3 billion, or 1.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), last year, a slight decrease on the record surplus of €8.6 billion in 2022, data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) shows.

Total State revenue increased to €123.7 billion, which was €7.8 billion higher than 2022. Total Government expenditure also rose to €115.4 billion, €8.1 billion more than the previous year. Gross general Government debt fell to €220.7 billion.

Tax revenues rose by €4.7 billion (5.2 per cent) on the previous year, with increases across both direct taxes and indirect taxes.

Direct taxes, which includes corporation tax, reported a year-on-year increase of €3.3 billion (5.7 per cent) while indirect taxes also showed growth in 2023 of €1.4 billion (4.4 per cent).


Corresponding expenditure in 2023 reached €115.4 billion, up €8.1 billion (7.5 per cent) on 2022. Increased expenditure was seen across most expenditure categories, reflecting the continued inflationary pressures in 2023.

Increases included a €2.3 billion (8.1 per cent) rise in compensation of employees, a growth of €1.4 billion (8.1 per cent) on use of goods and services, and a €1.3 billion (12.3 per cent) rise in gross fixed capital formation.

Social benefits in cash rose by €1.7 billion (5.9 per cent), while the €1.2 billion (13.3 per cent) increase for social benefits in kind includes supports for Ukrainian refugees.

Expenditure on subsidies continued to decrease, with a drop of €0.9 billion (25.5 per cent) as schemes relating to Covid-19 closed in 2022.

The general Government gross debt to GDP ratio was 43.7 per cent at the end of 2023 compared with 44.4 per cent of GDP a year earlier. The nominal value of debt fell by €4.1 billion during the year.

Minister for Finance Michael McGrath said the “significant budgetary surplus” in 2023 for the second year in a row “gives us options that are not open to many peer countries in the developed world”.

He said it was important not to lose sight of the fact that at least part of the surplus was due to the strength of corporation tax receipts, some of which is likely to prove windfall in nature.

“While our headline position is strong, this can change quickly given the inherent volatility in our corporation tax receipts and the dependence we have on revenues from a small number of multinational companies,” he said.

“In this context, it is imperative that transitory revenue streams are not used to finance permanent increases in expenditure or reductions in taxation.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter