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Italian Amnesty May Break EU Law

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

17 November 2009


According to a study published by the European Policy Forum (EPF) authored by an expert in EU legislation, Advocate Giuseppe Giacomini of Genoa, the tax amnesty launched by the Italian government contravenes EU law by breaking rules designed to maintain a level playing field in financial markets across Europe.

The study was launched at a press conference in the European Parliament in Brussels which brought together prominent Italian MEPs from different political groups. The study shows that the amnesty exempts individuals and companies controlled by them from a range of offences which continue to apply to their competitors in Italy and across the EU.

It also makes unilateral changes to the VAT system, a European tax which has pan-European rules which are infringed by the amnesty, especially in regards to concealment of matters from the European Commission.

The amnesty falls foul of competition and state aid rules, says Advocate Giacomini, who calls for a full investigation by the Commission followed by appropriate action against the Italian government.

He says the way in which the amnesty is constructed also makes it likely to contravene EU anti-money laundering legislation.

The amnesty is due to expire on December 15 but it has been suggested that it might be extended until mid-2010.

EPF President Graham Mather said: “Countries with high taxes but serious fiscal deficits may be tempted in current conditions to reach for the apparently attractive technique of a tax amnesty. This study, however, clearly demonstrates the need for caution. Amnesties can seriously cut across Europe's level playing field, break Community law, and discomfit and disadvantage other states. They may also generate a profound sense of unfairness among taxpayers, with unpredictable but potentially negative consequences for legislators. Let us hope that these lessons are learned in the debate which has been triggered by the latest Italian amnesty.”

TAGS: Italy

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