Italy tax police hunt 50bn euros undeclared income

Italians failed to declare almost 50bn euros (£43bn; $68bn) in income in 2010, according to the tax authorities, a rise of 46% on the previous year. Of the unreported money, 20bn belonged to 8,850 people in work and more than 10bn was sent abroad to avoid tax. Half the money that left Italy ended up in Luxembourg and Switzerland. PM Silvio Berlusconi has complained that almost a quarter of Italy’s economy goes untaxed while the country struggles with enormous public debt. Italy’s central bank predicts that the country’s public deficit in 2010 – the annual budget shortfall – will turn out to be below 5% of gross domestic product (GDP), but it forecasts that public debt will be 118.6% of GDP. The Italian authorities have launched a drive to combat tax evasion and the underground economy. The Guardia di Finanza (finance police) says it seized more than 110 million fake or dangerous products last year from car parts to cosmetics and pharmaceutical products. Mafia-owned assets worth 3bn euros were confiscated during the year, a 30% rise on 2009, the Guardia says. – BBC