Bombs, Other Attacks Against Italian Tax Agency

Tax resisters in Italy aren’t messing around:

A letter bomb blew off part of the finger of Equitalia’s director general in December, and a month later three explosive devices went off outside the agency’s Naples office.

Equitalia is “a publicly owned company responsible for collecting taxes and fines in Italy” — one of those weird government “privatization” boondoggles, I suppose.

In the last six months there has been a wave of countrywide attacks on offices of Equitalia, the agency which handles tax collection, with the most recent on Saturday night when a branch was hit with two petrol bombs.

Staff have also expressed fears over their personal safety with increasing numbers calling in sick and with one unidentified employee telling Italian TV: “I have told my son not to say where I work or tell anyone what I do for a living.”

Annamaria Cancellieri, the interior minister, said she was considering calling in the army in a bid to quell the rising social tensions.

“There have been several attacks on the offices of Equitalia in recent weeks. I want to remind people that attacking Equitalia is the equivalent of attacking the State,” she said in an interview with La Repubblica newspaper.

Saturday night’s attack took place on the Equitalia office in Livorno and the front of the building was left severely damaged by fire after the bombs exploded. The phrases “Thieves” and “Death to Equitalia” were sprayed onto outside walls.

It came just 24 hours after more than 200 people had been involved in running battles with police outside a branch in Naples which left a dozen protesters and officers hurt.

Meanwhile, a couple of days ago, Italian Justice Department Secretary Andrea Zoppini resigned after having been indicted for tax fraud. The government is trying to press an austerity program of sorts, along with higher taxes and a crackdown on tax evasion.

Among the Italian tax resisters, though something of a lone wolf outlier, is libertarian George Fidenato, who is following the path set down by Vivien Kellems in the U.S. back in . He is refusing to withhold taxes from his employees’ paychecks, saying he doesn’t work for the government and wouldn’t even if you paid him, and his employees’ interactions with the tax office are their own concern.

You may have heard the news that Facebook co-founder and therefore stunningly wealthy fellow Eduardo Saverin celebrated the upcoming initial public offering of Facebook stock by renouncing his U.S. citizenship.

As far as I know, he has not made a public statement about his decision, but it’s pretty easy to guess there is a tax angle. The IRS will demand a pretty huge exit tax from Saverin, so this is no get out of jail free card, but if he’s covered his bases well and Facebook continues to be the big lucrative internet property it is today, he’ll have done wisely by getting out of U.S. clutches.

The news has prompted another flock of commentaries on the growing number of U.S. citizens who live overseas who are renouncing citizenship, largely to escape U.S. taxes and increasingly invasive and onerous paperwork requirements.