Spain has announced plans to crack down on tax dodgers amid signs of growing unease over the country’s sovereign debt.
The underground sector is estimated to make up a fifth of the economy and tighter controls could provide the government with desperately needed extra income.
But Treasury Minister Cristobal Montoro would not be drawn as to just how much. “We have not calculated the results of this plan. We have to be prudent,” he said. “We estimate tax collection will rise but we cannot include any figures as budgetary income.”
Key measures will prohibit commercial cash payments of more than 2,500 euros and demand taxpayers declare overseas assets.
Austria has struck a deal with Switzerland over secret Swiss bank accounts while Italy is trying to change local attitudes over tax-dodging – seen by some as a national sport.
President Giorgio Napolitano described tax evasion as “deviant behaviour”. He said while it may be very common in Italy, it did not deserve to be associated with the concept of the country.
It does however cost Italy an estimated 120 billion euros in lost revenue a year, even if efforts to recover that are improving. Last year fiscal authorities clawed back 12.7 billion euros – a 15.5 per cent rise on 2010.