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Italy eyes breakthrough in fight against tax evasion

Inland Revenue to introduce new method to find dodgers

31 January, 17:57
Italy eyes breakthrough in fight against tax evasion (ANSA) - Rome, January 31 - Italy is upping the ante in its fight against rampant tax evasion and is looking to make a breakthrough in the first half of this year with a new system to find dodgers by cross-checking incomes and spending, the head of the nation's Inland Revenue Agency said Tuesday.

With the government needing cash for its bid to emerge from the debt crisis and balance the budget by 2013, Premier Mario Monti has launched a drive against tax cheats, who he recently said "are giving poisoned bread to their children".

The campaign has featured a number of headline-grabbing operations among rich tourists in Cortina d'Ampezzo and the Ligurian Riviera, shoppers at exclusive stores in Rome and nightclub owners in Milan.

Now the Inland Revenue, or the Agenzia delle Entrate, is about to ramp up the pressure further with a new system that will trace individuals' expenditure in 100 different categories to find anomalies between spending and declared income.

"It will be operative by the end of the first half of the year," Agenzia delle Entrate Director-General Attilio Befera told the House's finance committee. "It will analyse the data of over 22 million families, that is around 50 million individuals".

Befera said the fight against tax evasion had generated 11.5 billion euros for the State in 2011.

Last year he estimated that around 120 billion euros' worth of undeclared business was done on the Italian underground (black) economy each year.

The government campaign also features TV advertisements that brand tax dodgers as "parasites".

Italy is trying to beef up cooperation with Switzerland too.

photo: Agenzia delle Entrate Director General Attilio Befera.

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