As an Italian, I share a certain DNA trait with my fellow countrymen living in the homeland or abroad. Being harassed by the state and presumed guilty until proven innocent on financial matters made us develop a certain type of cynicism, an ability to see through the populist actions the government (any government) undertakes to satisfy its legendary hunger for funds.
This trait normally helps me keep my blood pressure in check, although it is always frustrating to see the government systematically targeting the same demographics with ever so complicated taxation schemes, whilst the real tax dodgers get away with murder.
Amongst the general apathy, more radical measures are being deployed with the delicacy of an enraged rhino and the accuracy of a nuclear bomb.
Without going in too much detail, the Italian equivalent of the Inland Revenue uses a highly flawed statistical model to determine how much each taxpayer (I use this term very carefully) is supposed to spend according to its earnings.
This, in theory, should highlight if someone spends above their means. The principle is that of "if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear". Very much 1984. In practice, it's a means to an end to justify sticking fines on anyone on "presumption of guilt". You spend more than the state thinks you should, here's a fine. The marketing campaign behind it is based on a mythical war against tax evasion, which has been the No.1 excuse used to explain the failure to manage the economy properly by the last 20 governments or so.
Recently, we heard about double taxation for expatriates (a bit like the USA, except we don't have a federal government and Italy just plans a double whammy "because they can"), more wealth taxes, more fuel taxes, more regional taxes, more provincial taxes, more council taxes, more rubbish taxes, you get the picture.
Yet, the most resoundingly asinine measure ever cooked up by the jobsworths ru(i)ning Italy's finances in Rome is a flat rate 20% levy on all overseas inbound money transfers into Italian bank accounts. See this Zerohedge article , commenting on a piece on Italy's Il Sole 24 Ore. link
Of course, if you go through the pain of certifying all transfers (no matter how small, no matter for what) and have a bank clerk assessing your claim under the government's watchful eye, you might get your money back within one year.
Naturally, the justification for this monumentally stupid idea is to target tax evasion and money laundering. Imagine Walter White quaking in his pants reading this.
In reality, what the government is planning to do is to short-term fund its cash flow by having people lending them 20% of their money for up to a year, obtain more data for their statistical model for spending patterns and of course, the icing on the cake, grab more cash to finance its failed enterprise.
In any other context, this would be classed as extortion.
Nevertheless, before scores of Italian expatriates finally decide to give up their Italian passports - the temptation is insanely high - they can always give their granny in Italy a foreign debit card.
Soundtrack for this piece: Biohazard - Modern Democracy