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Half of Greek households struggle to pay bills and taxes

MYT 11:55:01 PM

ATHENS (Reuters) - About half of Greek households struggle to pay their mortgages, utility bills and taxes, according to a survey on Thursday that showed the risk to government revenue targets posed by growing financial hardship.

More than 90 percent of households suffered a 38 percent fall in income since the Greek debt crisis started in 2009, the survey by the small businesses' confederation GSEVEE and polling organisation Marc found.

A pensioner sits on a bench at central Syntagma (Constitution) square in Athens January 10, 2013. REUTERS/John Kolesidis
A pensioner sits on a bench at central Syntagma (Constitution) square in Athens January 10, 2013. REUTERS/John Kolesidis

"Greek households and consumers have reached their financial limits," GSEVEE said. "They can't afford additional increases in taxes, electricity prices or income reductions."

Repeated rounds of spending cuts and tax increases to unlock bailout aid from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund are taking a toll on household budgets as Greece enters a sixth straight year of recession.

Half of those polled said they had to borrow money from friends and relatives to make ends meet in 2012 as one in 10 households have at least one member unemployed.

The survey showed that for 40 percent of households, pensions have become a main source of income.

The economic malaise has forced 90 percent to cut spending on clothing, footwear and leisure activities with about 80 percent reporting reduced spending on transport and heating.

If it means saving money, one in two households said they would turn a blind eye to not getting a receipt when they buy goods or services, which could hamper efforts to reduce tax evasion.

"The reduction of incomes and over-taxation has led to looser tax morals and the risk of a drop in state revenues is visible," GSEVEE said.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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