Italy’s Government Diverts Charity Tax to Iraq War

In Italy, taxpayers are required to pay an “otto per mille” tax (“eight per thousand”) of 0.8% of their income tax. Taxpayers choose whether this tax should go to one of a set of approved religious groups, or should instead be spent by the state on humanitarian and cultural projects.

It turns out that Italy’s government included its contribution to the war on Iraq among the “humanitarian and cultural” projects funded by this tax:

The voluntary contribution in tax returns (“otto per mille”) paid by the Italian citizens to finance culture was used by the government to finance the mission to Iraq. FAI (Italian environmentalist fund) president Giulia Maria Mozzoni Crespi said opening the yearly meeting on the artistic heritage. “I was astonished by what Enrico Letta (prime minister’s undersecretary) told me. The money Italian citizens wanted to give to finance art, cultural and social exigencies was used to finance the war on Iraq and only a small part was used to struggle against starvation in the world. Enrico Letta said it in a conference but he told me that only a daily published a small article,” she said.

This adds another to my list of reasons to be skeptical of Peace Tax Fund and other such hypothetication schemes that rely on trusting the government to obey the spirit of the law when spending money.

The new 1040 form is available on I was surprised to see that there is no longer a “tuition and fees” deduction listed on the form.

It turns out that this deduction — and the deduction for teachers who buy classroom supplies with their own money, and the itemized deduction for state and local sales taxes — expired in , and that while Congress was expected to renew them , they didn’t get around to it before the IRS’s deadline to get ’s forms to the printer (and they still haven’t gotten around to it). Other tax breaks for education, such as the Hope and Lifetime Learning credits, did not expire and are still in effect.

It’s very possible that Congress will try to throw together a last-minute tax bill that restores these deductions, but it’s also possible that they won’t. If you were relying on any of these to get under the tax line, you may want to look for a back-up plan.