(Adds economy ministry comment, context)
BUENOS AIRES, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Argentina's tax revenues jumped 36.2 percent in 2014 compared with the previous year despite weak economic growth in the South American country's main trading partners and falling export prices, the government said on Monday.
Tax income for the year climbed to 1.17 trillion pesos ($136.8 billion). Tax receipts for December climbed 42.8 percent to 108.6 billion pesos, slightly above the 104.3 billion pesos expected by the market.
Juan Carlos Pezoa, a senior economy ministry official, said the increase in tax revenues occurred even with an "unfavourable external environment due to low growth in the country's leading trading partners and a fall in prices for Argentina's exports."
Private economists who argue the government lowballs its inflation data said the numbers actually pointed to an economy in recession.
They say the increase in tax take is largely explained by consumer price increases, estimating an inflation rate as high as 40 percent. The government forecasts inflation in 2014 clocked in at about 24 percent.
"If tax revenues in the year were up 36.2 percent and inflation was 38 percent, then the difference shows that we were in recession last year," said economist Matias Carugati at Management & Fit.
"A large proportion of taxes are linked to consumption and therefore indirectly linked to inflation," Carugati says.
Official data showed the Argentine economy, Latin America's third biggest, shrank in the first and the third quarters of 2014. (Reporting by Eliana Raszewski, Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Andrew Hay)