Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Shafted

In November I got a cryptic letter from the Comune di Roma about a new property tax revision law. Since I have a hard time understanding bureaucratic Italian language, I had my accountant look it over... Apparently, the city of Rome decided it was time to review the status of certain buildings that had been classified as low-income housing (case popolari) many, many years ago but were no longer in any way, shape, or form, low-income homes. This inevitably meant the property tax would be increased- which seemed legit to me because many apartments in places like Campo dei Fiori, Monti, Trastevere were once low-incomes homes, but as we all know, nowadays they're inhabited by people who are well-off.
So it seemed fair to me for the city to increase the property tax (which is called ICI here). Plus, property tax in Italy ridiculously low compared to other big cities. I pay something like 200 euro a year in property taxes here, whereas in NYC I'd surely pay about $1,400 for a place like mine.

Being the stickler that I am, I immediately followed the procedures listed in the letter even though there was talk of a possible extension of the deadline from November to March. A law's a law, so I figured I'd get it out of the way instead of waiting. The whole process took about two weeks and cost me 600 euro plus I had to pay the difference between my old tax and my newly revised tax for the past 5 years. As painful as it was, I did it because I strongly believe in obeying the law and paying taxes- if we don't pay our taxes the city can't function, it's as simple as that. Duh!

Enter the new Berlusconi/Allemano government. With promises of abolishing property tax, they manage to sway the people. Now I'm sitting here thinking "Not only did I spend 600 euro to abide by this law, but I also back paid for 5 year's worth of undervalued property tax... and NOW they want to abolish property tax all together?!?!?".

What pisses me off even more is that people fall for this trick. HELLO- if they abolish the property tax, they're just going to have to find another way to get that money from us. The city's already in debt, there's no way they can cut that tax and still function. Property tax is a normal part of life, why don't Italians understand that?? Can you name one city that doesn't have property tax??

I'm amazed that people can be so stupid and easily conned. And I'm also annoyed that those of us who choose to follow the law in this country always end up getting shafted. Maybe I should ask the city to reimburse me for the money I spent to abide by the law?!? Hahhahha, fat chance.

I might have to call Le Iene about this one!

8 comments:

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

A lot of places in the states with low property taxes i.e. California have poor services like public school funding.

My parents paid very high prop taxes in Northern NJ. They complained all the time but I had to remind them it was cheaper than sending three kids to private school.

The money will have to come from somewhere. Will they increase income tax? People would get very ticked off about that since those are quite high already no?

It's easy for people to believe campaign slogans when B's party is in control of most of the media.

Romerican said...

I'm not sure where they'll get the extra money, but if they increase income taxes (which as you mentioned are already obscenely high) I think there will be rioting in the streets!

Guess we'll just have to wait and see what Berluska the wizard pulls out of his hat this time...

Ms. Violetta said...

Property taxes has gone crazy here in the last 4-5 years. A housing boom has happened partly because of the upcoming 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. As a result, property tax has doubled or tripled. I ended up having to sell my home just because I couldn't manage the increases in both property taxes and cost of fuel to heat my home.
While I agree that the taxes have to come from somewhere - there has to be some sort of regulation to keep it from increasing so outrageously. Otherwise, It makes owning a home nearly impossible.

Romerican said...

ms. violetta, I agree with you 100% but I can assure you that the property tax here in Rome is anything BUT outrageous.
It's very, very moderate and the increase due to the property tax revision was still rather moderate. If you can afford to own a home in the center of Rome, then you can certainly afford to pay 200- 300 euro in property tax a year. It's not an excessive amount to ask, believe me!

Emmina said...

Something very similar happened to my parents in Sardinia. They paid their second home tax on time, like nice law-abiding citizens, and 6 months later the local government decided to scrap it. Their reason? That so many people were not paying up that they didn't have the time or resources to chase all of the non-payments, and so decided just to cancel it altogether! Needless to say, no reimbursements were made to the 'brava gente' who had already parted with their cash. Shafted well and truly!!

Romerican said...

Emmina- that is SO infuriating! It's so hard to understand how and why this can happen in a "first-world" country.

jennifer said...

We still keep receiving bills for the RAI canone.
We live in the US.
Enough said.

Romerican said...

Jennifer... All I can say is "whoa". Mind boggling.