Italy is not best known for the diligence of its tax-payers or the efficiency of its state bureaucracy, but the Finance Ministry has signalled its intention of keeping up with the times by allowing citizens to file their tax returns over the Internet.
"In future income tax returns can be made over Internet, perhaps from as early as 1998," Gianfranco Fornari, director of taxes at the Finance Ministry, has told reporters in Milan. "The real problem is one of security, of the recognisability of the customer who sends us the declaration. There is a risk that we won't know who is on the other end of the line."
The problem could be obviated by using authorised intermediaries such as accountants or banks, he says. "The Internet is a very important instrument in our dealings with professionals and companies," he says. "We were the first ministry to use it and it has had a very positive impact. In 10 months we have had 87,000 contacts."