Italian business leader calls scrapping IMU tax 'an error'

Assonime president says work, income tax cuts should be first

Italian business leader calls scrapping IMU tax 'an error'

Milan, May 27 - The president of the Italian business association Assonime called recent Italian government efforts to delay and slash the unpopular IMU property tax "an error", given Italy's other tax-cutting priorities and strapped financial resources, on Monday. "Cancelling the IMU is a technical error," said Assonime President Luigi Abete, speaking at conference in Milan on corporate taxes. "I understand very well that political deals among the powers of the (government) majority dictate a change on the IMU law, but we continue to maintain that the IMU is inevitable in a context in which one must reduce taxes on income and work," Abete added. By questioning whether the IMU is more political necessity than economic priority, Abete took a stand that is closer to the OECD, which also called for cuts in work and income taxes before cuts to the IMU. Rising centre-left leader, Florentine Mayor Matteo Renzi, has called government intervention on the IMU "the price paid" for the centre-left's alliance ex-premier and centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi, who made a major campaign promise of refunding payments made and scrapping the IMU in February's inconclusive parliamentary elections. The centre-right has made cancelling the IMU a condition for working with the centre-left to form the current government, led by the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) premier, Enrico Letta. The current government passed a decree delaying June IMU payments on homes and businesses to September. Premier Letta has vowed to completely revamp the IMU by then, while Berlusconi promised to wipe the tax off the ledgers by June. IMU was instituted among a series of austerity measures under former premier Mario Monti's emergency technocrat government to restore health to Italy's public finances drained by the euro crisis, which helped bring down Berlusconi's government at the end of 2011. It has been widely criticised for being too high and unfair, as it is levied at an equal rate per square metre on owners of plush downtown apartments and on low-income families with flats in the suburbs. Abolishing IMU and reimbursing the 2012 revenues from it would create a hole of around eight billion euros in this year's budget.

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