New taxes in Italy
New taxes in Italy
«The Economist», 9 settembre 1916, p. 442
Italy, like Great Britain, is determined to provide a considerable portion of the cost of the war out of revenue, and a scheme of new or revised taxation, estimated to produce 100 million lire annually, was instituted last week by decree. Its most interesting feature is the institution, at a date to be fixed hereafter, of a Government monopoly of the sale of matches, which is defended on the ground that increased taxation has made the consumer pay a higher price for a worse article. The manufacturers will now sell only to the Government, and it will regulate the prices; but if prices are to be reduced, it is hard to see how the monopoly can be very remunerative. The export trade is unaffected. Another feature is the upward revision of the sliding scale tax on war profits, except as regards agricultural produce. This latter, it is said, is taxed already as much as it can bear; but one cannot help reflecting that the agricultural interest is very strong, and that even the agricultural labourers, through their unions, are a power in the land. More novel imposts are stamp taxes on consignments by railway, or by tramway, from one commune to another, and on boxes of securities or valuables deposited with a bank, which, it is pointed out, may easily be so transferred as to evade the death duties. The tax is adjusted to the value of the contents, and payable annually, and may be doubled if the deposit is made in the names of several persons and one of them dies. The tax on bills of exchange is revised, and that on alcoholic beverages is increased by 75 per cent. – which, it is said, will not raise the price of wine, owing to the abundant vintage of 1916. Precautions, moreover, are taken against adulteration. The communes, too, are encouraged to make better provision for the service of their own loans by being permitted to increase their own indirect taxation, especially on wine, and are allowed to institute a special surtax on their direct taxpayers, ranging from 5 per cent, on a total payment in direct taxes of 10 to 25 francs to 30 per cent, on payments exceeding 2,000 francs. This is to be applied to poor relief during the war and immediately after its close. Dependents of soldiers are to be exempted if they are receiving assistance, and subscriptions to any relief fund are to be taken as a set-off against the tax. The scheme is cordially welcomed by the eminent economist and ex-Minister, Signor Luzzatti, and the fact that its introduction is practicable is a satisfactory indication of the soundness of Italian finance.