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Tax amnesty nets 95 billion euros

Treasury expects 98% of assets to be repatriated

29 December, 14:35
Tax amnesty nets 95 billion euros (ANSA) - Rome, December 29 - Italians have already declared at least 95 billion euros in assets hidden abroad thanks to the government's tax amnesty plan of which 98% is expected to be repatriated to Italy, the Treasury reported on Tuesday.

The amount, calculated as of December 15, far surpassed the forecast made by Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti last week that over 80 billion euros would be declared and is equal to more than 6% of Italy's GDP.

The amnesty allows Italians a chance to legalize their hidden assets and accounts without having to pay back taxes, only a one-off 5% penalty fee on their value.

The controversial initiative also shields them from prosecution for related crimes like accounting fraud and illegally exporting capital.

The government hopes that the assets repatriated to Italy will give a boost to the national economy, which has only recently begun to recover from the recession brought on by the global economic downturn.

The measure was originally set to expire on December 15 but the deadline was extended this month to April 30, a date which the Treasury said in a statement on Tuesday was "definitive and final".

Tremonti explained last week that the move was necessary ''because the amount of assets being declared and the paperwork involved was too much for us to process in time''.

According to the Treasury, the success of the amnesty was in part thanks to efforts of leading countries in the Group of 20 to work together in cracking down on tax havens.

"The era of tax havens is over forever. To hold assets in these havens is no loner convenient, neither economically nor in regard to taxes. The return is too low and the risks too high," the statement observed.

Based on the figures released on Tuesday, the Treasury stands to receive upwards of five billion euro from the penalty fees, more than the 4.5 billion euros it had originally expected.

The terms of the amnesty deadline extension raises to 6% the penalty on assets declared by the end of February and 7% until the end of April and Treasury sources believe a further 30 billion euros in assets will be declared.

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