ECONOMY

Who swindled whom?

Chinese and Russian immigrants attempting to swindle the tax department may have fallen victims themselves to unscrupulous accountants, Finance Ministry sources said. Cross-checking of income tax data revealed that the immigrants had declared tax-deductible medical care expenses in order to receive reimbursements. In all cases, the amounts to be reimbursed were lower than 1,500 euros, a sum that if exceeded would render them liable to further probing. All statements were submitted electronically for speedier processing but, curiously, the accounts to which all the reimbursements were to be sent were only two: one for the Chinese and another for the Russians. Also, the submission code was the same for all. The sources said the ministry has issued strict instructions for exhaustive tax checks on Chinese trading firms where tax evasion is suspected to be rife. They added that it intends to fully apply relevant regulations which provide for the shutting down of firms found to be in tax violation, such as the above, for up to three months. The ministry intends to inspect about 3,000 Chinese firms active in the country, most of which represent 12 magnates based in Italy. However, officials note that violators prove to be elusive, and from fines totaling 6.5 million euros imposed in the past, not one euro has been collected.