Tax Pills

The social network: a new frontier for Tax Administrations
un collage dei social network più diffusi

It was held from 13th to 15th of October in Rome, hosted by the Italian Revenue Agency, the OECD meeting dedicated to services to taxpayers. The meeting, which involved more than 50 delegates from Tax Administrations of more than 25 countries and representatives of the Italian Department of Finance, focused on the opportunities offered by the new technologies, in particular by the world of social networks, and on issues related to online services, with a particular attention to "security" and "authentication".
The Director of Services to taxpayers of the Italian Revenue Agency, Mr. Aldo Polito, said in his opening speech, welcoming the delegations, that "the sharing of experience and knowledge is the most valuable outcome that may result from these initiatives" and also stressed the commitment of the Agency to "reduce compliance costs and increase the tax authority's efficiency to benefit citizens, businesses and professionals".

Even a Tax Administration could "twitter" ...
Followed with particular attention was the presentation of Chris Zimmer (Accenture), titled "Social Media: Benefits and Risks to Global Revenue Agencies", with facts and figures that showed the importance of social media even for Tax Administrations. It was clearly demonstrated that the availability of social network platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed and others offer the opportunity to open more channels of contact with taxpayers and to introduce forms of collaborative assistance between them. Even on the basis of the experiences described by some countries (Denmark, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand), this opportunity seems to be a promising new frontier to explore, with due caution but without much hesitation, to enhance the satisfaction of users.

... Always paying attention to safety
Mr. Khalid Kark (Forrester Research)  gave an interesting presentation on security concerns. In the field of online services, in fact, the challenge is on security and identification of users who interact with public authorities via Internet. Although the solutions may differ according to each nation laws and regulations, the choices are mostly common: strong identification procedures, reliable technology tools and quick response to critical situations. In this context, technology can facilitate and encourage a centralized management of user identities so that, once established the identity by a trusted organisation, any other service provider can interact with a user already identified. In this field, the Belgium delegate presented the "Belgium electronic ID card", that can be used for various scopes and in various ways.

Waiting for the report ...
Both issues will be the focus of further study by the OECD in the near future, therefore work groups have been created to analyze in detail opportunities and challenges. The results will be available in mid -2011.

Importance of sharing
Representatives of the UK delegation illustrated the state of the art of a benchmarking study on services to taxpayers, conducted with the tax authorities of other countries. The many questions and comments from delegates have shown the importance of sharing experiences and skills for a continuous improvement in services delivery.
A message loud and clear, then, comes at the end of this meeting: the sharing of experience is of primary importance to the Tax Administrations, called every day to provide taxpayers with information, and most of all services, and do it simply, fast and safely. (


August: the Italian Revenue Agency went to the seaside
Waves of checks on the Italian coasts in August, with the officers of the Italian Revenue Agency at work on beaches, ports and seaside resorts to find tax evasion hidden under beach umbrellas. Objective of this summer campaign is to reconstruct the income of customers in flip-flops and sarong by collecting elements and , taking into account all the expenses they incur during their holidays: travel packages' purchase, rental fees of bathing huts, sun loungers and umbrellas, rental of berths, attendance in sailing and diving courses.
Under check also traders who work on Maritime domain, managing services related to beach activities.

The special plan of synthetic assessments has set in 25.000 the number of checks to be carried out with this method in 2010, and 35.000 are on the agenda for 2011. The synthetic assessment is a tool that allows to reconstruct the income of taxpayers from the costs incurred, looking not so much to how their wealth is produced, but how it is used to maintain a certain standard of living.

805 is the number of ports, of the approximately eight thousand kilometers long Italian coastline, affected by the summer plan of checks and accesses. The assessments on dealers of commercial dockings are aimed at obtaining information on their accommodation capacity, on users of berths and operators acting in the harbor, all in order to assess high-risk evasion situations. Cases of exclusive clubs, but also of sport associations - disguised as non-profit institutions but running proper businesses, have been reported.
Also targeted, are "fake" boating charter companies. During checks on seasonal activities, in Liguria, Campania and Friuli Venezia-Giulia, many cases of one-member companies, or with a few members of the same family, have been identified. With minimum capital and one vessel in lease, under the guise of "Hire of vehicles and inland waterway vessels", luxury boats were "rented" to the owners for their personal use.
Declaring to conduct a renting business, in fact, allows to obtain many fiscal, economic and financial advantages, including the separation of personal assets from the company (with the benefit of limited liability), the saving on VAT for the vessel lease, the evasion of excise duties and VAT on gasoline and, last but not least, saving on VAT for all the expenses incurred in keeping the boat and its crew.

Bathing establishments
A thorough investigation was also launched both to check data reported by bathing establishment owners related to the specific statistics-based tax assessment, and to gather evidence of the taxable capacity of their customers. Emblematic is the case identified on the Campania coast, where the manager of a bathing establishment declared more takings in autumn than in summer.
Checks also in Lido di Venezia, where fully equipped bungalows are rent for the sum of ten thousand euro per season. Also "sieved" the beaches in Sardegna, where Revenue Agency officers are on the hunt for tax evaders who do not issue receipts and bills, declare underestimated data for the sector studies and employ staff illegally.

Hotels, bars, restaurants and nightclubs
A prominent place on the verifiers' agenda is devoted to the monitoring of hotel and catering activities. In Naples, for example, Revenue Agency officers X-rayed pizza and ice cream parlors and discovered a hotel that rented rooms never issuing invoices or receipts.
Zero income for many bars and restaurants in Romagna, where it has been found an amount of around 1.5 million euro in evaded taxes.
More "movida" than usual in the discos of Veneto, Lazio and Emilia Romagna. Here, the August tour of tax inspectors has put under pressure dozens of night clubs claiming red balances: they weren't emitting  any admission ticket and were employing illegal workers. (

FiscoOggi è una pubblicazione dell'Agenzia delle Entrate - Ufficio Comunicazione
Testata registrata al Tribunale di Roma il 19.9.2001 con n. 405/2001
Direttore responsabile Claudio Borgnino