Italians are buckling up for very bleak ride into economic gloom and many are asking if everyone is paying their way. Even the previously untouchable Catholic Church’s finances are finally under scrutiny.
“Something like 55% of our salary goes to taxes. Really, from January 1 to July 15 we work for the state. Very nice!”, the Peruzzis tell us. Not far from the Peruzzis, effervescent barista and café owner Francesco plays the tax system a little more loosely. “Often when you know a client really well, you don’t print a receipt. This way you avoid paying tax. Sometimes you just have to try and work the system to get ahead.” Both Francesco and the Peruzzis live and work in a city dominated by the architecture, iconography and sheer presence of the Catholic Church and as they struggle to pay their bills and get by, they’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable about the tax breaks and special privileges enjoyed by the Church. “I think everybody small or big must make a sacrifice.” But that’s something the Church doesn’t seem to feel it needs to do and while the government is talking tough, many suspect nothing will change. “The result will be another Italian sweet deal, as always.”