Silvio Berlusconi has been all over the media this morning with a game-changer in the Italian general elections. The People of Liberty party undertakes as its first act to abolish taxes on our main residence and to repay the tax we have all had to cough up under the Monti administration.
The reinstatement of the rates, which had been abolished by the ousted Berlusconi administration, was one of the first actions of the Monti government in 2011. The justification was the desperate need to staunch not the debt but the rate at which it was rising and the consequent collapse of international confidence that was making it cost more by the minute. Not for nothing is Prime Minister Monti greatly disliked as a tax-raising scourge of the evaders and avoiders. It's very hard to get out of the rates.
The tax has been a disaster. It has caused blatant defiance - always something to avoid between the state and its citizens - in refusal to pay, refusal for all sorts of wholly forseeable reasons that cluster under the heading 'we haven't the money'. Apart from bankrupting families and small businesses it is regressive; even the European Union declared it unfair. You can't slap the rates onto a country without warning, onto every family in the country when their budgets are creaking under the cruelties of recession.
Worse, the justifications were false. 'See, the spread is falling' they cried. The spread was falling in Spain too and they weren't being clobbered with this particular purgatory. 'You can't let the evaders get away with it and they can't evade this one' they preened. The tax burden is as high as it is in Italy because the culture of discreet tax 'management' shall we say is widespread and wholly accepted. People have been ruined unnecessarily by inappropriate cultural game-shifts from the playbook of the politics of envy playing to a nasty progressive audience.
Angels have had 5000 euros a year confiscated. The People of Liberty Party are offering to stop that and give us our money back. Every householder in the country is considering the offer.