Christ­mas bonus spent on taxes

The record-low fes­tive al­lowance of 1.5 bln eu­ros went straight to state cof­fers, with de­posits gain­ing noth­ing

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY EV­GE­NIA TZORTZI

The Christ­mas bonus paid out to pri­vate sec­tor em­ploy­ees, to­tal­ing about 1.5 bil­lion eu­ros, has all gone to­ward the pay­ment of var­i­ous taxes rather than saved in bank ac­counts, as had been the norm in pre­vi­ous years, keep­ing the to­tal de­posits fig­ure at around 160 bil­lion eu­ros.

De­cem­ber used to be a month dur­ing which de­posits in­creased by at least 1 bil­lion eu­ros. How­ever, this year there was no Christ­mas bonus for civil ser­vants or pen­sion­ers, un­em­ploy­ment has sur­passed 27 per­cent, while the record low bonus of 1.5 bil­lion eu­ros that pri­vate em­ploy­ees were given went di­rectly to the tax au­thor­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to bank of­fi­cials. Obli­ga­tions for in­come, road, lux­ury and prop­erty taxes along with other charges meant that not only was there no money left for sav­ing but hardly any­thing for ad­di­tional con­sump­tion over the hol­day pe­riod.

As a re­sult De­cem­ber is es­ti­mated to have added noth­ing to the 160 bil­lion eu­ros in to­tal de­posits at do­mes­tic banks, while some es­ti­mates say that there may have even been a re­duc­tion be­low the 160-bil­lioneuro mark, viewed by many as a psy­cho­log­i­cally im­por­tant level.

Af­ter a neg­a­tive 2012, when the de­posits of house­holds and corpo- ra­tions con­tracted by 13 bil­lion eu­ros, 2013 ap­pears to have closed with in­flows and out­flows be­ing level.

Credit sec­tor of­fi­cials are point­ing to a tough 2014 as sav­ings are ex­pected to shrink fur­ther due to the re­duced in­comes and in­creased tax obli­ga­tions that the new year is promis­ing. The un­known fac­tor is po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity, ahead of the Euro­pean and lo­cal elec­tions in May, which means that a fur­ther de­cline in bank de­posits can­not be ruled out.

Mean­while, the Fi­nance Min­istry an­nounced on Tues­day that the dead­line for road tax pay­ments has been ex­tended un­til tomorrow, af­ter which ve­hi­cle own­ers will have to pay a fine equal to the tax it­self. Tax of­fices will be op­er­at­ing on skeleton staffs for emer­gency busi­ness to­day and tomorrow, but the road tax can also be paid at banks and post of­fices.

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