Italian tax evasion rates 'incompatible with democracy'
Head of national collection agency says 130 bn euros dodged10 December, 12:43
"It should be said in strong words that tax avoidance and evasion are not compatible with our economy, and with no system that is truly democratic," said Attilio Befera, director of Italy's tax office, L'Agenzia delle Entrate.
Citing figures from the country's audit court, Befera noted that an estimated 130 billion euros is evaded annually in Italy.
He acknowledged that efforts have been made to track down tax evaders, but "there is still a long way to go".
The underground economy is strong and distorts markets and fair competition by undermining legitimate businesses that operate within the law, he said.
As well, when individuals and companies avoid taxes they are not paying their fair share to maintain social programs, said Befera.
The State's ability to fund social programs is especially important during the current economic crisis and tax evasion threatens a "sense of social cohesion" within the population.
"No economy in the new phase of global competition, while having to deal with the current recession, may endure levels of evasion as those in Italy," concluded Befera.