Tax inspectors hit target in Italian ski resort
By Barry Moody
ROME (Reuters) - Italian officials combating a national plague of tax evasion hit the jackpot in a swoop on a posh ski resort, catching 42 drivers of Ferraris and other luxury cars who had declared incomes of less than 30,000 euros ($38,700) a year.
The technocrat government of Mario Monti is stepping up a war on tax evasion that robs the Italian exchequer of an estimated 120 billion euros a year, nearly four times the value of the prime minister's new austerity budget.
Amid howls of protest from local officials, conservative politicians and shop owners, 80 tax inspectors fanned out through Cortina d'Ampezzo, one of Italy's smartest ski resorts, on December 30.
They have now reported that of 251 "super cars" checked in the Dolomites town, 42 belonged to people "who could barely make ends meet" on declared annual incomes of less than 30,000 euros, and 16 to people with declared incomes of under 50,000 euros.
Some 19 luxury cars were owned by companies that declared a loss in both 2009 and 2010, and 37 by firms reporting annual revenue below 50,000 euros, the inspectors' statement said.
Their bonanza did not stop there.
Their investigations of Cortina's swish restaurants showed that the receipts recorded by cash tills under surveillance were 300 percent higher than those declared a year earlier, before Italy was hit by the worst of the economic crisis.
They were more than double those of the previous day, reflecting the practice of not issuing receipts, which are registered for sales tax. Continued...