Italy has a long history of tax amnesty programs established under a broad variety of names and rules. Interestingly, every new program has been described as “the last chance” for tax evaders to comply with the Italian tax code. It is no wonder that, as in all prior cases, Italy’s most recent voluntary disclosure program (the “V.D.”) has been defined as the “last call.” Having said that, and sensitive to prior performance, we firmly believe that for a wide range of reasons the V.D. will truly be the last opportunity for Italian citizens and residents to get their tax matters in order.
One indicator is heightened criticism of the typical Italian de facto tolerance toward tax evasion, which is now being blamed for the country’s ongoing economic crisis. Accordingly, the war against tax havens, as initiated by the U.S. under F.A.T.C.A. and subsequent inter-governmental agreements, has changed the way the whole world approaches such matters. Today, there is a new sensitivity toward tax compliance and no discernable government or media tolerance towards tax avoidance.
In addition, a different approach is now being taken with respect to tax amnesty matters. In the past, there was a sort of “reward” for the penitent evaders. Such individuals were granted the opportunity to regularize their positions by paying a low flat-rate extraordinary tax. The V.D. is different. Under the new provisions of the Law n. 186, dated December 15, 2014, (the “V.D. Act”), a taxpayer who enters the V.D. procedure (“V.D. Applicant”) will be required to pay every single euro of unpaid tax; the only benefit lies in the reduction of penalties, which are less than those applicable in an ordinary tax audit procedure.