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Tax revenues up 9 percent on year to year

Euro bills.
Euro bills. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The Estonian Tax and Customs Board (MTA) collected €6.12 billion in taxes in the first half of the year, of which €1.14 billion were collected in June, an increase of €4.8 percent year-over-year. The average wage increased by more than 11 percent during the same time frame.

In the first six months of this year, 47.4 percent of the budget has been implemented.

The MTA said that despite the economic downturn, the labor market has remained strong, which has supported the payment of labor taxes. The rise in Euribor and the increase in private sector profits from the previous year have impacted corporate income tax receipts. Falling confidence and decreased purchasing power have had an impact on the payment of consumption taxes.

Wage and salary bills increased by 12.3 percent in the first half of the year compared to the previous year. This was mostly due to a 11.4 percent increase in average earnings in the first half of the year, while the number of employment climbed by 0.9 percent. The sector with the highest six-month salary increase (22 percent) was hotel and food services.

In comparison to the previous year, social tax payments grew by 12.2 percent. The increase in collections was affected by a change to the Social Tax Act that went into effect in April 2022 and cut the social tax rate from 33 percent to 20 percent in certain situations.

Increased tax-free income, income tax refunds, and people exiting the second pillar of the pension system all had an impact on the state budget's portion of personal income tax collections. Those leaving the second pension pillar paid €31 million in income tax in the first half of the year, €28 million less than in the same period previous year.

Personal income tax receipts from local governments increased by 11.7 percent.

Corporate income tax receipts climbed by 24.8 percent over the previous year. According to the MTA, the high growth is primarily due to credit institutions paying advance income tax on current profits. The rise in Euribor has resulted in a jump in bank profits, with €51 million in advance income tax received in the first half of the year, more than double the amount received in the same period last year.

The MTA reported that VAT receipts increased by 7.7 percent in the first half of the year, compared to the same period in the previous year, which is less than the increase in prices due to the cooler economic climate (the consumer price index was +14.2 percent in the first half of the year). Payments for the first half of this year (€1.67 billion) are €120 million higher than in 2022.

Falling consumer confidence, dwindling savings buffers, and declining purchasing power all impacted VAT payments in the first half of the year. Due to low inflation, consumer spending power is likely to recover in the third quarter, with average pay growth (+11.4 percent) already outperforming inflation (+9.2 percent) in June, according to the MTA.

Total business turnover fell in the spring and deepened in June to -6.4 percent.

Real estate and construction were the main contributors to the increase in VAT payments in the first half of 2023, with payments increasing by 146 percent and 36 percent, respectively, compared to the same time in 2022.

Excise duty payments in the second quarter were clearly higher than at the start of the year, with a 3.6 percent increase quarter on quarter. However, excise duty payments are down 0.9 percent year on year in the first half.

Tobacco excise duties remained the sole excise tax to rise at the end of June, owing to a 5 percent increase in the excise duty rate on cigarettes and smoking tobacco at the start of the year. The six-month excise duty payments on alcohol remain unchanged from last year.

By the conclusion of the second quarter, excise duty payments had fallen by 3.2 percent. According to the MTA, the decline was directly linked to a drop in wholesale diesel sales, which was exacerbated by the manufacturing industry's terrible economic situation.

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Editor: Marko Tooming, Kristina Kersa

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