Wednesday, December 6, 2023

No Surprise in November CT Receipts

When the June figures were published the €4.2 billion of Corporation Tax collected in the month pointed to receipts of around €6 billion in November.  The year-on-year declines for August, September and October were attributed to largely idiosyncratic volatility in such a concentrated source of tax revenue. 

And so it proved, with the monthly receipts for November coming in broadly in line with expectations at €6.3 billion or five percent above the crude projection based on the June figure.  With November being the most important month of the year for Corporation Tax, November 2023 was a record month, surpassing the €5.0 billion collected in the same month last year.

November CT

In year-to-date terms, November was enough to push 2023 back up above the equivalent total for 2022.  The difference looks small on the chart but the €22 billion collected so far in 2023 is almost €1 billion higher than what was collected in the same period last year.  The difference to 2014 is staggering.

CT Cumulative

The recent volatility in the receipts can be seen with the 12-month sum.  If December 2023 just matches what was collected last December then the total for the year will be €23.5 billion, up on the €22.6 billion from last year.

CT 12 Month Sum

The volatility is highlighted in the annual changes from the above chart.  This shows some extraordinary changes. 

CT 12 Month Sum Change

Towards the end of 2022, CT was growing at an annual rate of over 60 per cent – exhilarating but unsustainable. This growth plummeted during 2023 and approached zero in October. The November numbers mean that the annual change in the 12-month sum rebounded a little and rose to 2.8 per cent – and such is the scale of these receipts now that even such a small relative increase is a pretty significant sum.

It is hard to say if the December returns will garner much attention, and as a standalone month there is no discernible pattern.  2022 was a boom year for CT but December 2022 was actually lower than December 2021 – that volatility thing again.

December CT

Corporation Tax is a highly volatile source of revenue. While there can be some information in the monthly changes there is also an awful lot of noise.  Here the year-on-year comparisons of monthly CT receipts since January 2016 – and note that the chart excludes some of the volatility as the vertical axis is cut off at +100.  The final point shown is November 2023 which was was 27 per higher than November 2022.  Missing values are used when the calculation of the annual change involved a negative number (three instances since 2016: January 2019, April 2019 and April 2021).

CT YonY by Month

Monthly figures that are lower than the same month of the previous year are not uncommon, though some occur in months that are not important from a CT perspective. Around one-third of months in the chart above have negative values – and this was a period when aggregate CT revenues grew at an extraordinary rate.

Four of the six months from December 2022 to May 2023 were negative in year-on-year terms.  The run of three negative figures in a row that was seen from August to October this year was a bit unusual – we have to go back to early 2021 to see such a run, when the pandemic would have had an impact, and the only other instance shown of three negative values in a row was in early 2017. 

The proximity of the recent three-month negative run to the key month of November also likely contributed to the focus. Those negative outturns will also have been seen as an opportunity to try and dampen expectations. Who knows what December will bring. Probably more volatility but structural shifts remain absent for now.

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