Entries in Taxes (3)


Italy Cracking Down on Tax Evaders, Targeting People by Their Cars

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Across Italy, police are cracking down on tax evaders, and are able to find them by the car they drive. Drivers of Lamborghinis and Ferraris are being pulled over and are asked for their licenses, registrations and tax registration IDs.
The country is currently $2.5 trillion dollars in debt. The specific targeting of drivers with luxury cars is a part of an ongoing tax war, with Italian tax officials trying to change a culture that has often prided itself on avoiding taxes. Police are pursuing drivers to make sure that they are declaring, and therefore paying taxes on, earnings that would allow them to afford luxury vehicles worth as much as half a million dollars. Since the new technocratic government took power in November, it has made tax collection a priority.
The crackdown seems to be working. Italian officials say they have discovered more than $12 billion in unpaid taxes already this year and more than 2,000 luxury car owners who underpaid their taxes. Some say the tax culture is now slowly changing.
But the crackdown has experienced a fierce backlash. Tax collection branches of the national revenue agency have been targets of terrorist attacks, with more than 250 in the last year.
Last week, Prime Minister Mario Monti visited the tax authority’s Rome headquarters and reaffirmed his support of the crackdown and said that rich Italians avoiding taxes hurts the poorest Italians and that tax cheats are like “giving poisoned bread to their children.”
According to one anonymous Ferrari owner who spoke with ABC News, people are very frightened by the tax checks and cross-referencing that tax agencies can perform and that many Ferrari owners have been trying to sell their cars in an attempt to keep a low profile. With the heightened increase in selling back a Ferrari, their value has dropped at least twenty percent.
With the government allowing tax authorities heightened access to bank accounts, “fiscal evasion is a bad thing for everyone, not a cunning habit anymore,” says Attilio Befera, the Italian tax agency’s director. “The Italians’ culture is changing.”
But do people really support this change as much as Befera insists? Everyone can be against tax evasion, especially when someone else is doing it.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Swiss Bankers Charged in US Tax Evasion Case

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Three Swiss bankers who allegedly helped Americans hide over $1.2 billion in overseas accounts were charged Tuesday by U.S. authorities, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Federal prosecutors in New York claim the bankers, who all live and work in Switzerland, conspired with wealthy American taxpayers to conceal funds from the U.S. government in Swiss accounts, The Wall Street Journal reported.  It is illegal in the United States to not report money in foreign accounts (and income earned on these accounts) totaling more than $10,000 during any given year.

Prosecutors have not named the Swiss bank where the charged bankers were employed, but they allege that the three financial officers opened the secret accounts to acquire business lost by UBS -- another Swiss financial institution guilty of providing undeclared accounts to U.S. taxpayers. UBS stopped helping U.S. customers evade taxes through offshore accounts in 2009 after admitting to charges of conspiring to defraud the United States.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Wealthy Germans Join List of Europeans Who Wish to Pay Higher Taxes

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Fifty wealthy Germans have pledged to their country's Chancellor Angela Merkel to "stop the gap between rich and poor getting even bigger," and join the "tax me harder" movement, which began with American billionaire Warren Buffett and caught on in several European countries, according to The Guardian.

When Buffett stated earlier this month that America's wealthy had been "coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress," and called for higher taxes on wealthy incomes, some of the wealthiest in European countries such as France, Italy and Spain stepped forward willing to contribute towards debt reduction in their respective countries as well.

Now The Wealthy for a Capital Levy, a group of well-off individuals in Germany, say if the country's wealthiest paid a five percent wealth tax for two years, the country could raise $ 144.3 billion, The Guardian reports.

Other countries are also considering temporary tax hikes for the rich.  French president Nicolas Sarkozy last week proposed a three percent tax on incomes higher than $721,350.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio