Italy's tax police on the warpath against evasion

Tax officers in an anonymous office on the outskirts of Rome are on the frontlines of what Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti calls a war on endemic tax evasion as he struggles to fill public coffers.

Police man the phones 24/7, receiving a flood of reports from citizens against tax dodgers -- from landlords failing to declare their rental income to shopkeepers and waiters failing to provide receipts.

The increase in reports on the tax evasion hotline -- 117 -- is a sign that things are slowly changing in a country where a slice of the population has long considered taxes optional.

"In Rome we went from 6,500 calls in 2010 to 7,400 in 2011 to 8,200 for the first 10 months of 2012," Colonel Davide Cardia, head of the police's tax centre in the Italian capital, told AFP.

The surge in anti-evasion informants has been even more remarkable on a national level, with the hotline receiving 91.5 percent more calls in the first nine months of this year than in the same period in 2011.

"We have noticed exponential growth, particularly since autumn 2011," Cardia said.

The colonel was referring to November 2011, when Monti, a former top European commissioner and economics professor, came to power and vowed to bring down evasion to reduce Italy's debt mountain.

"Italy is a country where the rates of tax evasion are very high and have been for a very long time," said Maurizio Franzini, a professor of political economy at La Sapienza University in Rome.

"The numbers are not 100-percent certain but according to some estimates evasion is equivalent to 20 percent of gross domestic product -- a significant figure," he said.

Last year, Italian tax authorities managed to claw back 12.7 billion euros ($16.6 billion) from would-be evaders -- a 15-percent increase from 2010.

But there is still a long way to go.

"The big evaders are those who send their money to tax havens," Franzini said.

"We need to work on an international level to reduce the privileges of tax havens," he said.

As they await a more concerted attack on this international aspect of tax evasion, the police have increased operations across the country to unmask all sorts of tax dodgers.

The crackdown began last winter with a raid on the chic ski resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo in the Alps, where police nabbed several artful dodgers driving luxury cars who declared no revenues at all.

This summer, they targeted posh beachside resorts like Forte dei Marmi and Portofino.

The sweep has included more humble targets too.

In an operation against the bed and breakfast sector, the police found that around 30 percent of the businesses were not paying their taxes -- a percentage that showed the scale of the challenge.

The high media impact of these operations has also been aimed at changing mentalities.

One new weapon in the war is the Internet.

On the website www.evasori.info, which is also available on smartphones, you can report a suspected tax evader with a couple of clicks.

The site packs a punch with the slogan on its home page: "Tax dodgers are stealing from you too!"

Follow @YahooMalaysia on LINE for daily entertainment updates.

Loading...
  • Kumpulan pop 1990-an popular
    Hana Ahmad - Tupai
    Kumpulan pop 1990-an popular 15 hours ago
    Kumpulan pop 1990-an popular

    Dunia muzik tahun 1990-an dipenuhi dengan kumpulan pop lelaki dan wanita seperti Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, Hanson, Boyzone dan banyak lagi! …

  • Hans Isaac bakal arah filem antarabangsa
    Azizah Saleh - Tupai
    Hans Isaac bakal arah filem antarabangsa 15 hours ago
    Hans Isaac bakal arah filem antarabangsa

    Pengarah serta penerbit berbakat, Hans bakal mengarahkan filem berbahasa Inggeris. …

  • Dari Hallyu ke Hollywood
    Syahida Kamarudin - Tupai
    Dari Hallyu ke Hollywood Sat, Apr 19, 2014 12:16 AM MYT
    Dari Hallyu ke Hollywood

    Para pelakon Korea Selatan yang berjaya menempa nama dalam industri filem Hollywood. …

  • Tori Spelling 'fighting for marriage'
    Cover Media
    Tori Spelling 'fighting for marriage' Sat, Apr 19, 2014 2:30 PM MYT
    Tori Spelling 'fighting for marriage'

    Tori Spelling is said to believe she can cure Dean McDermott's "cheating ways". …

  • Nicki Minaj 'wants wedding in a hot tub'
    Cover Media
    Nicki Minaj 'wants wedding in a hot tub' Sat, Apr 19, 2014 11:00 AM MYT
    Nicki Minaj 'wants wedding in a hot tub'

    Nicki Minaj reportedly plans to have fire breathers and "naked performers" at her wedding. …

  • Tidur lena dengan SleepPhones
    Azwa Iela - Tupai
    Tidur lena dengan SleepPhones 15 hours ago
    Tidur lena dengan SleepPhones

    SleepPhones dapat membantu anda untuk mengatasi masalah-masalah yang tidak diingini ketika tidur. …

  • Kebaikan air kacang soya
    Azwa Iela - Tupai
    Kebaikan air kacang soya Sat, Apr 19, 2014 12:18 AM MYT
    Kebaikan air kacang soya

    Ramai yang mungkin suka minum air kacang soya, namun ramaikah yang tahu akan khasiat atau kebaikan kacang soya ini? …

  • Tips penjagaan bawah lengan
    Azwa Iela - Tupai
    Tips penjagaan bawah lengan Fri, Apr 18, 2014 11:20 AM MYT
    Tips penjagaan bawah lengan

    Di sini kami ingin berkongsi dengan golongan wanita di luar sana beberapa tips berguna untuk mendapatkan bawah lengan yang cerah. …

  • Female candidates fight for rights in Iraq campaign
    Prashant Rao - AFP News
    Female candidates fight for rights in Iraq campaign 6 hours ago
    Female candidates fight for rights in Iraq campaign

    With fears that women's rights are being eroded in Iraq, prospective female lawmakers are determined to push women's issues to the fore of campaigning for this month's elections. Despite a constitutional requirement that a quarter of all MPs be women, Iraq lags on key indicators such as female employment and literacy, and there is a bill before parliament that opponents say dramatically curtails women's rights. Also at issue ahead of April 30 elections are high levels of violence against …

  • Dapatkah Pelat Dipulihkan?
    Yahoo Newsroom
    Dapatkah Pelat Dipulihkan? Thu, Sep 19, 2013 1:54 PM MYT
    Dapatkah Pelat Dipulihkan?

    Pelat bukanlah disebabkan oleh lidah yang pendek. Apakah punca pelat? …

Comments on Yahoo pages are subject to our link to Comments Guidelines. You are responsible for any content that you post. Yahoo is not responsible or liable in any way for comments posted by its users. Yahoo does not in any way endorse or support comments made by its users.