NEWS » Bartering to pay your tax bill in Italy

Bartering to pay your tax bill in Italy

Bartering might make a big come-back at least as far as it concerns settling tax debt with the state.

In some Italian cities if you owe taxes to the state it's possible to repay by doing works of social utilities, such as pruning trees, road maintenance and painting walls, in order to settle your debts with the municipal tax authorities. The novelty was introduced a year ago by the government to help families overwhelmed by the crisis, but in the big cities only Milan and Bari have actually decided to offer this opportunity to their residents.


Strongly supported by the movements promoters forms of alternative economy, the measure was in fact greeted with scepticism by most municipalities strapped for cash and from those who complain of the similarities with memories of the ancient past.


The dramatic crisis that shook Italy in the last eight years and has left victims on the ground, unemployment, poverty, lay-offs, and in some cases heartbreaking stories of people who could not face difficulties and committed suicide.


Mayors with less and less resources had to cope with the recession and the difficulties that families had. As a solution the “barter administration" has been invented. So if you don't pay taxes, or your son's school canteen, because you have no money you are given the opportunity to make up for it, in exchange for a public service such as cleaning the public gardens or repainting the walls of a school.
People in arrears who can't pay school fees, rubbish collection, tax on property, council flats rent or car fines, because they have no money, can spontaneously apply for this civil service. To participate it's necessary to demonstrate being in difficulty, that is, in Milan, having an income of 21 thousand euro gross per year and being in arrears of at least 1.500 euro. 


the “salva Italia” decree provides that citizens, or associations of citizens, can do cleaning and maintenance of the city in exchange for "reductions or exemptions" of taxes. Without even forcing too much the device of the law, approved in 2014, the municipalities have predicted that by working you can discount a future tax liability, but, in some cases, even a prior one.

Milan is not the only city council opening to barter, but also Ventimiglia, Orosei in Sardinia, Bari, Trevi, Castelvetrano Trapani and Syracuse.


There have been polemics over this possibility of bartering as some say that it is impossible to evaluate the price of an hour's work. In any case there are some limitations to be taken into account. The services can concern only the re-qualification of the territory, as established by law, and the kind of service must be coherent with the type of arrears. So, for example if one owes rubbish collection tax they can work in order to clean up streets and parks. 

Giulia Lombardo

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