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Annual bonuses postponed till Jan, causing Dec business sector wages to fall

Companies in the business sector probably put off payment of year-end bonuses last year until January to take advantage of tax changes, causing gross wages to fall for the month, analysts told MTI on Friday.

Gross wages in the business sector fell 2.2% in December from the same month a year earlier after climbing 1.6% in November, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said in the morning. Excluding bonuses and one-off payments, business sector wages rose 3.0% in December, level with the increase in November.

Erste Bank's Zoltán Árokszállási said employers likely paid year-end bonuses in January, instead of December, because of personal income tax changes.

Hungary introduced a flat-rate 16% personal income tax from the start of 2010 while eliminating many tax preferences.

Gergely Suppan of Takarékbank attributed the fall to the same reason. "Regular wages", which exclude bonuses and one-off payments, will probably rise 3% in the business sector in January too, he added.

For the full year, gross wages of low-earners will rise 4-6%, in line with the increase agreed on earlier by employers, unions and the government, but gross wages of high-earners will not rise more than 2%, Suppan said. Suppan said he saw no inflationary pressure from wages.