italian senate backs new tax bill
The Italian Senate this week passed a new tax bill, tied to the larger Finanziara (budget legislation) by a 162-155 vote. The decision was made without recourse to a vote of confidence and by a margin which did not require support from the small number of senatori a vita (life senators), both of which augur well for the passage of the full legislation when it comes up later this year. The measure approved last week includes, inter alia, a revamped successions (i.e., estate) and gift tax system; tougher enforcement measures for small businesses, business use of automobiles, and sports sponsorship contracts, coupled with an exemption from tax for small agricultural producers; and various nontax measures. The new estate and gift system would imposed rates of 4, 6, and 8 percent depending on the relationship to the recipient, with a one million euro exemption provided for children and other direct discendants.