Italy’s “Redditometro”, a computer system for trying to catch tax cheats by looking at spending patterns.

From the New York Times.

People say that tax evasion in Italy is a high art, so I wonder why a system that collects data on what some people spend is any better than requiring an annual audit of people suspected of being tax cheats.

There’s my strong sense that the government set up Redditometro as a gimmick to get around an actual program of enhanced revenue collection. Usually, when you see a hare-brained scheme, it’s really the clever politician’s way of NOT meeting some objective.

When a system is set up so that cheaters prosper, you just get a lot of cheating. In this case, however, it looks like the sellers of high-end goods and other luxuries are the ones who are ending up paying the price–because people are hesitant to buy these goods for fear of tipping off the Italian tax authorities.