Letta Declares War On Italian Tax Evaders
26 July 2013
Posted by: Author: Ulrika Lomas
Author: Ulrika Lomas
During a meeting at the offices of the Italian Revenue Agency, Italy's Premier Enrico Letta promised that the Government was engaged in "a fight to the death" against tax evaders, and that all of the additional revenue obtained from that fight would be used to reduce tax burdens in the country.
Beginning the meeting, Attilio Befera, the Agency's General Manager, pointed out that its objective is to reduce the level of tax evasion in Italy to "normal" levels, in line with those seen in other European countries, while Letta replied with a strong message of support.
The fight against tax evasion, he said, would be pursued with "forcefulness and determination, because it is unjust that so much wealth is produced in Italy and then taken abroad, without giving any contribution to resolving the country's fiscal problems."
"Those who have carried money abroad," Letta continued, "should be aware that the situation is not the same as five or ten years ago. It would be better for them to return the funds to Italy, and to pay their tax debts, because the international situation will not allow them to be hidden as previously."
He also insisted that, while the Government has given a commitment that all the additional revenue gleaned from actions against evasion would be used to reduce Italian tax burdens, he also declared that, in Italy, "taxes are too high because not everybody pays them."
The statistics behind Letta's words were provided by a study issued by Confcommercio, the federation representing Italian small and medium-sized enterprises, professionals and sole traders, whose President, Carlo Sangalli, commented that economic growth in Italy with the present level of taxation on families, businesses and employees is "unthinkable."
The federation's study calculated that the underground economy will take more than EUR270bn (USD355bn) – or 17.4 percent – out of Italian gross domestic product this year, and that, because the fiscal burden therefore falls on fewer taxpayers, the real level of taxation is 54 percent, the highest amongst advanced economies and an increase of 3 percent since 2002.
It has been noted, however, that the high tax rates in Italy also seem to be producing one of the "top incentives to evade," as, in the current economic recession, taxpayers are already finding it difficult to keep their financial heads above water on their lower earnings, without having to pay taxes as well.