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Ireland's surging tax take eases deficit, augurs better 2015 budget after 6 years of austerity

Ireland's Finance Department says tax collections from a growing economy are unexpectedly strong and have put the country on course to achieve normal deficit levels after six years of austerity.

Tuesday's figures recorded a January-August deficit of 6.3 billion euros ($8.25 billion), 1.3 billion euros less than forecast.

Reasons included declining joblessness and welfare payouts, early repayment and preferential refinancing of government debt, and faster-than-expected growth in income and sales tax collections.

Economists say Ireland could record a 2014 deficit below 4 percent of GDP, much better than the austerity program target of 4.8 percent, and likewise should beat the 2015 goal of 2.9 percent.

They say Ireland can sharply reduce cuts and tax hikes in the 2015 budget due next month.