The Italian Senate on Wednesday approved the government's 54 billion Euro package of revised austerity measures. One of the measures introduces a 2% tax on remittances abroad by irregular immigrants, imposing a minimum tax of 3 Euros to be charged for each transaction.
Legal immigrant workers who are registered with the Italian National Social Security Institute (INPS) and those with Tax codes are exempted from this tax.
This technically means that the new tax will not be applicable to all immigrants who are in the country legally.
It is almost impossible to understand why the government decided to introduce this measure. If they thought of using it to collect extra money from irregular immigrants, then they acted out of ignorance.
This is because the Security Law which was approved two years ago, already banned irregular immigrants from using banks and money transfer agencies to send money abroad. In fact each immigrant sending money abroad must present a copy of the Permit of Stay and Tax code. Whoever fails to present these documents must be reported to the authorities.
Aware of the risk they face, many irregular immigrants normally ask their relatives or friends to send for them money abroad.
The government should know that by making it difficult for irregular immigrants to use legal channels to send money abroad, they are simply favouring the use of illegal channels which they can’t monitor.
The decision to introduce a 2% tax on remittances abroad by irregular immigrants shows that the government not only recognizes the presence of irregular immigrants, but also intends to generate some money by taxing them.
By Stephen Ogongo Ongong’a