News Summary: Nabbing Italian tax cheats key

Associated Press

TAX CHEATS: Italy's tax police estimate that tax evasion totals about 240 billion euros ($300 billion), or 15 percent of the country's gross domestic product of 1.6 trillion euros ($2 trillion.) That has fueled a view that winning the war on tax cheats could more than wipe out the country's budget deficit, expected to increase to 42 billion euros ($53 billion) this year.

WIDESPREAD PROBLEM: Poor collection of taxes in Greece is seen as a key factor keeping the country mired in crisis. In Spain, as much as 90 billion euros ($150 billion) is lost each year to tax fraud - the equivalent of the country's national debt

MANY STRATEGIES: In Italy, it's usually the self-employed, small business owners and even professionals who are blamed for lying about their earnings. But wealthy Italians who make their money in Italy also try to avoid taxes, using such strategies as falsely declaring that their base of operations or residence is abroad. And officials say rising incidence of international fraud outpaces small business cheating.

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