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Pay up or weigh anchor? Italy's yacht owners feel the tax collector's heat

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A flotilla of evasion

Around 30,000 yachts have fled Italy since the campaign began in March this year, seeking refuge in Corsica and the Cote d’Azur in the west to Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, and Greece in the east.

Next to seeking refuge, some owners are trading in their flashy yachts and motor launches for smaller vessels that present less of a tempting target for the authorities, or are paying to have them stored in boat yards, away from prying eyes. They can then access their beloved boats on low-cost budget flights from their homes in Italy.

“We understand that Italy, like Spain and Greece, needs to recover revenue, but these inspections could be made by the Guardia di Finanza [the Italian law enforcement agency under authority of the Minister of Economy and Finance] from their desks, using computer records about yacht ownership, instead of in the marinas,” says Roberto Perocchio, the head of Assomarinas.

“This is the worst crisis in Italian boating history. The authorities are using scare tactics and creating a climate of fear. They are criminalizing the boat industry with fiscal terrorism,” he adds.

Spot checks 'necessary'

A spokesman for the Guardia di Finanza in Rome said the spot checks were necessary because not all boat records were computerized.

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