Italians Know What Their Neighbors Make: Why Don’t You?
Sure, it was a leak, possibly politically motivated. But for 24 hours, every Italian’s tax information was publicly available on the web.
The finance ministry described the move as a bid to improve transparency.
Deputy Economic Minister Vincenzo Visco said he could not understand what all the fuss was about.
“I can’t understand what the problem is,” he is quoted as telling Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper.
“This already exists all around the world, you just have to watch any American soap to see that. We had the system ready by January but we delayed publication to avoid arguments during the election campaign.”
I can’t imagine what Visco means by American soap opera’s treatment of tax law, but I myself would be perfectly happy in a world where folks’ tax filings were transparent. (In part, of course, the cost to me isn’t terribly low, as I’m sure that the public institution I work for will eventually be compelled to disclose salary data. Similarly, government officials, whose salaries are knowable, have small incentives to care about privacy). But even so, wouldn’t the privacy losses we’d all feel be balanced by the pro-social consequences of transparency? For example, I’d bet that you’d see a rise in competitive charitable giving, and more pressure on unequal pay for equal work.