ROME:  Italians are on edge this week after tax police began deploying a new computer system that compares declared revenues with expenditures to crack down on tax cheats.

The “redditometro” (revenue-metre) will attempt to recover at least a small fraction of the estimated 120 billion euros ($161 billion) in taxes dodged each year. It will initially analyse the books over the past four years of a sample 35,000 households, including looking at mortgages, cars and even food purchases.

If it identifies a discrepancy of more than 20 percent between intakes and outgoings, the “redditometro” immediately triggers a tax inspection.

Italy has one of Europe’s biggest grey economies and highest levels of cash transactions, making tax evasion a constant problem despite repeated crackdowns. The problem is particularly acute in the services sector and police often carry out raids on shopping areas or high-class resorts that reveal massive fraud.–AFP