Italy has clawed back over €6 billion ($7.9 billion) in unpaid taxes in the first four months of a campaign targeting evaders, it emerged today.
The country's tax police caught more than 2,100 people who had failed to pay their tax for at least a year, the Guardia di Finanza (GDF) said in a statement.
The clampdown on tax evasion, which until now was regarded almost as a national pastime, comes as the technocratic government of Prime Minister Mario Monti struggles to manage Italy's crippling €1.9 trillion public debt.
The biggest evaders were to be found in the wholesale and retail sectors, the construction industry and manufacturing, according to a statement on the GDF's website.
Some flamboyant evaders flaunted high-powered cars, dream villas and wealth accumulated through years and years of proven dishonesty, and meanwhile, benefited from the services that they never paid for, the statement read.
The statement went on to list some of those fingered by investigators, including a popular bar in the ski resort of La Thuile, which over the last 5 years failed to report €350,000 in revenues.
Elsewhere, a bakery in the Calabria region, renowned for its sweet specialties, neglected to tell the taxman about €400,000 in revenues, and was also accused of using black market labor to help concoct its delicious treats.
In another example, a man who lived near Naples was found to be running a car dealership from his house, complete with a showroom in the front garden.
Indeed, so widespread is the problem that investigators uncovered an accountant in Genoa who failed to submit statements of his 60 clients - including several call centers and construction companies, managed by immigrants - concealing income tax for about 13 million euros.