Washington Post: Why is tax evasion so bad in Italy?

My comment on a Washington Post story published on 25 November 2011:

People would rather keep the money than pay tax, that’s pretty obvious. But the most
powerful incentive to avoid paying tax is the certainty that most, if not all of it, will be either wasted or stolen. If you think that with your tax money you will get decent schools, hospitals and public services, you find it tolerable to pay. However, if you know that your money is going to pay to ferry escorts for the (now former) prime minister Berlusconi in police cars or government planes, not to speak of other forms of theft – and that nobody ever will be sanctioned for it, you will do anything you can to avoid paying – and feel good about it, too, as you invest in yourself and your family. Getting rid of Berlusconi was a first step in the right direction. Now the citizens of Italy have to acquire the certainty that their money will be spent wisely and invested in their future and they may feel ashamed if they don’t pay tax – but only then.

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