Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tax Evasion - a national pastime

Having lived in Italy for 16 years, I have never really had any dealings with the Guardia di Finanza - those scary plain-clothes officers who have huge powers of stop and search….. until last week - when I left a hotel, after checking in some guests and was stopped by an ID-flashing GDF plain-clothes, requesting to see a receipt for whatever I had purchased. Fortunately I did not even have a cup of coffee there. If I had done, I would have had to produce the receipt to prove that the seller had put it through the till and that I had paid for it!

Seems a lot of effort for a €1.30 cappucino.

 There must be more effective ways of tracking down tax-evasion - like the recent weekend blitz in Courmayeur when under-cover officers donned skis to check that the mountain top eateries were issuing receipts, while another 60 colleagues were checking up in the village below.

Mario Monti is taking tax evasion seriously. As well he might, given that the practice of not issuing receipts alone costs the Italian Treasury 120bn a year! Last year a similar crackdown by the Agenzia delle Entrate (Tax collections agency) recovered nearly 12bn.

Another raid in the ski resort of Cortina showed that many luxury car owners (251 to be precise) were declaring an annual income of less than €30,000 per annum.

Don’t let any of this discourage you from visiting this wonderful country. As a visitor all you need to do is to make sure that you get a receipt for everything that you buy and keep hold of that until you have left the shop and moved on, so that if you are stopped, you simply produce the receipt and off you go.