Non-interest expense in the first quarter of 2013 totaled $12.7 million while non-interest expense totaled $7.4 million in the 2012 Successor Period and $3.2 million in the 2012 Predecessor Period. Expenses in the first quarter of 2013 were significantly impacted by merger and system conversion costs, which totaled $1.6 million. Such costs included professional fees and other expenses required to close the ECB merger as well as costs to convert ECB's data processing and other related activities to the Company's integrated platform. The Company expects to again incur significant merger and system conversion costs in the second quarter of 2013 as ECB's data processing conversion and re-branding was completed in April 2013. Additionally, salaries and employee benefits expense totaled $6.0 million, and occupancy and equipment expense totaled $1.5 million in the first quarter of 2013.
The Company's income tax benefit in the first quarter of 2013 totaled $395 thousand, which represented a 32.9 percent effective tax rate on pre-tax losses. The effective tax rate was determined by the Company's blended federal and state statutory income tax rate adjusted primarily for non-taxable municipal investment income, earnings on bank-owned life insurance, and non-deductible merger costs. The Company recorded income tax expense in the 2012 Successor Period of $4 thousand and income tax expense of $270 thousand in the 2012 Predecessor Period associated with the pre-tax income in those periods.Based on the Company's analysis of positive and negative evidence regarding future realization of its deferred tax assets, which included an evaluation of historical and forecasted pre-tax earnings, net operating loss carryforward periods, merger costs and savings, asset quality trends, capital levels, and potential tax planning strategies, the Company determined that there was sufficient positive evidence to indicate that it would likely realize the full value of its deferred tax assets over time and therefore it was determined that no valuation allowance on its deferred tax assets was needed as of March 31, 2013.