My Dad would often say that whenever I would leave the room or the house. It was his way of reminding me “to watch my back”. Good advice, especially in Italy, where if you are not careful the authorities will literally take the shirt off of your back in taxes. In this land of unreconciled conflicts of interest and unfair competition (mostly by State Monopolies and other Government Conglomerates), the little guy doesn’t stand a chance, which is why tax evasion is higher than elsewhere. It also explains why Italians will do their best to “elude” taxes which for Italy’s IRS is tantamount to “evasion” and if audited, the burden of proof will, of course, be on you, the taxpayer!

Between exorbitantly high taxes even for guys just “making a living” and the myriad of indirect taxes levied on just about everything from soup to nuts but excluding “life-saving” drugs, people are lucky if Uncle Giuseppi leaves them enough for smokes and a glass of Spumante on New Year’s Eve!

You do the math: 22% VAT is standard for most goods and professional services like legal and accounting. Marginal VAT rates of 4% and 10% are levied on food and other agricultural products, tourism, and the construction industry including related products and services. Now you know why Italian gasoline and diesel are so expensive. The Germans know it too, which explains why they are reluctant to give Italians so-called “Recovery Funds” to help their comatose economy. The Germans know that whatever money is given to Italy will hardly trickle down to the average Italian because those “Bucks” will stop on the desks of “Uncle Giuseppi” and his government bureaucracy!

The German Chancellor Mrs. Merkel has made amply clear that the only monies available to Italy will be what provided within the ambits of the so-called ESM (or European Stability Mechanism) and made available to all Member States in financial distress. The message is clear: Italy can apply for Emergency Relief like all other Member States under the terms of the ESM. This, however, is something Italians appear reluctant to do. According to the Conte Government, Italy has no problems admitting financial distress and/or requesting Emergency Relief under the terms of the ESM and of course, Italy agrees to pay back all loans received, how could anyone question that? But don’t think you can impose upon us specific reforms for loans received. It is this latter requirement regarding specific reforms that the Italians will not underwrite. After all, in a Country that is perennially reforming something or other, the undertaking you will concede would have little meaning, at least viewed from an Italian perspective.

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