social media data the new tool in fight against tax evasion

Fighting tax evasion with social media data

Business News

The government is looking at the use of data scraping from social-media platforms in the battle against tax evasion, Deputy Economy Minister Maurizio Leo said on Wednesday.

During a speech to Parliament, Deputy Economy Minister Maurizio Leo said the government plans to use information on living standards that professionals and entrepreneurs post on social media to track down tax dodgers.

“What needs to be done, and what we are working on with the Inland Revenue Agency (l’Agenzia delle Entrate), and (public IT agency) Sogei, is so-called ‘data scraping’. That means taking account of the standard-of-living data that professionals and entrepreneurs publish on social networks (and seeing if it is compatible with their tax declarations),” Leo said.

“We have already started discussing this the privacy authority, and they are willing to cooperate, as long as the protection of personal data is not prejudiced.

“Collaboration with the (privacy) authority is absolutely fundamental.

“Tax evasion is huge weight (on society), like terrorism, and we all must cooperate”.

Reduction in undeclared taxes

Data from the Treasury, released this month, reveals a notable decline in the estimated amount of uncollected taxes and social contributions, dropping from around €107.8billion in 2016 to nearly €83.6billion in 2021.

However, since assuming office in October 2022, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has introduced several fiscal amnesties. This move has triggered criticism from opposition lawmakers who argue that her administration appears more focused on appeasing tax evaders than earnestly addressing their behaviour.

Notably, in December 2022, Meloni faced backlash and had to reverse a proposal that sought to reduce penalties for shopkeepers resistant to adopting more transparent digital payment methods, following objections from the European Commission.

How will this affect social media behaviour?

As we are all aware, social media posts do not always reflect the reality of a person’s life. In fact, many get into debt in order to maintain a façade of a rich life.

However, there are many who will buy clothes, jewellery and other materialistic symbols of the high life, only to return them after the social media photos and videos are online.

Will we see a change in behaviour from those who are evading tax? Will people stop posting about their lavish holidays, expensive dinners, new cars, and renovated properties in order to escape the clutches of the taxman?

With the current backlash against influencers following the Chiara Ferragni saga, is social media about to take a turn for the better?

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