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Italy puts tax returns on the Web

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TEXT OF STORY

Renita Jablonski: What if your friends and co-workers could go online and access your tax statements? Italians discovered yesterday that's exactly what their government had done. But as Megan Williams reports from Rome, the outrage -- and the Web site -- didn't last long.


Megan Williams: Pure folly. That's what everyone from politicians to ordinary citizens called Italy's posting of every tax payer's financial details on the Internet. The move also provoked an onslaught of hits by Italians wanting to know what stars, politicians and their next-door neighbors pull in. It was supposed to increase transparency in a country renowned for tax evasion. But before the day was through, Italy's privacy regulator shut the site down. Italian tax expert Sally Silvers says posting tax returns was odd given how hypersensitive Italians are about privacy.

Sally Silvers: In typical Italian fashion, the country is going from one extreme to another, which I don't think serves any public purpose.

And it's not likely to be repeated. Incoming prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has said Italians have a right to tax evasion, because taxes are too high.

In Rome, I'm Megan Williams for Marketplace.

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