Tax evasion

When you come to live in Italy it doesn’t take long to arrive at the conclusion from Italians talking about Italy that the north of Italy is hard working and more law abiding; the centre of Italy is less hard working and less law abiding but still has acceptable standards; the south is not hard working and is not law abiding. Reports of government money spent on new hospitals etc which are never finished or where finished are not needed are commonplace. A higher percentage of people in the south do not pay TV licence fees and the highes levels of disability benefit are claimed in the south etc.

So it a came as a surprise that recent research showed the highest level of tax evasion by small business is in the centre  rather than the south. The level of tax evasion by falsifying income was 7.9% in the south, 14.8% in the north and 17.9% in the centre. According to the research an identikit of a typical tax avoider would  be male, 44 years old, resident in central Italy and self employed as an owner of a restorant, bar or hotel.

When buying a drink or a meal in Italy you must be given a receipt and on occasions the financial police will stop customers leaving bars etc to check if a receipt has been given. However, we have been in bars and shops where no receipt is given and so the money goes straight into the pocket of the owner. We have also been in a restaurant where customers have been warned that the financial police are in the vicinity and so receipts are rigorously given. Finally, we have heard of cafes where a receipt is given but the wrong one. So if the bill is 9 euros you get a receipt for 90 cents. If it gets queried then its “an honest mistake, gov”.

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