'Unfair' to roll back IMU property tax says economy min

Saccomanni firm on Berlusconi bugbear

'Unfair' to roll back IMU property tax says economy min

Rome, August 8 - Italy's economy minister said Thursday that abolishing the widely loathed IMU property tax would cost the government 2.426 billion euros in revenue in 2013, showing opposition once again to the center-left People of Freedom (PdL) party of Silvio Berlusconi who has vowed to roll the tax back or tank the volatile coalition executive. In a list of nine hypothetical reforms to the tax, economy minister Fabrizio Saccomanni laid out the impact on revenue and the effects on taxpayers. "The proposed exemption of IMU for primary residences does not seem fully justified in terms of fairness and efficiency, as indeed is also apparent from the hearings of experts (such as the Bank of Italy) and the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund," said Saccomanni. The tax, which Berlusconi campaigned against in his rise to second at the polls in elections in February, has been suspended through September in a deal reached between cabinet members of the unprecedented left-right coalition. That coalition has been at risk since its inception thanks in large part to threats by Berlusconi and his loyalists to pull their support if their position to abolish IMU is not upheld. Saccomanni, a non-political former deputy governor of the Bank of Italy, made clear that his assessment on the matter was not definitive, and that further "clarification" was needed. "I express the hope that this work can meet the need that I set myself when I started: to make a contribution to the ongoing debate, clarification of the practical implications of the various proposals, in the knowledge that political choices must be based on adequate technical insights," said Saccomanni. In response, PdL Senate whip Renato Schifani said that his party's position "hadn't shifted by a decimal point".

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