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LA STAMPA

Sicilian Honeymoon Is Over: Palermo Tax Collectors Want Your Wedding Receipts

Sicilian tax collectors are cracking down on a large, underground industry: weddings. Because many weddings services on the Italian island are done off the books, newlyweds must name the suppliers of their dresses, cakes and photos -- and whether they han

Sicilian
Sicilian
Laura Anello

Life as a newlywed couple is never easy. After months of preparations, the wedding celebrations, and the return from the honeymoon, the new twosome should be set to finally start their new life together. But in Sicily, rather than happily-ever-after, newlyweds run in to a visit from the taxman.

The tax-collection agency for the Sicilian capital of Palermo has launched a crackdown on tax evasion in the lucrative wedding business.
Some 2,000 couples from Palermo who have gotten married in the last five years have received a form from the local tax office requiring a full accounting for every detail of their ceremonies, which in Sicilian tradition tend to be extravagant affairs even if the bride and groom come from modest backgrounds.

The newlyweds are required to list who provided flowers, photos, wedding gifts, and the bride's bouquet, how much they paid and, most importantly, if they have received sales receipts, which are supposed to be mandatory for every sale or service in Italy. 

Despite the economic crisis, the wedding business is still very successful in Sicily, where an average ceremony costs 25,000 Euros. On the other hand, many dodge taxes. The sales receipts are the proofs that they are paying VAT. Too often they do not.

A young professional who got married in Palermo three months ago spoke with La Stampa of his experience. "A famous local photographer asked 2,500 Euros, but he invoiced only 1,000 Euros. We didn't receive sales receipts for the car we rented and for my wife and the other women's hairdresser and make up artist, for whom we paid a total of 1,500 Euros." On the other hand, the florist and the restaurant owner released receipts that included VAT. But the professional did not receive receipts from the violinist and organist who played in church.

It is pretty common. This is why Palermo Internal Revenue Service has started an investigation asking the newlyweds to declare all their wedding expenses. They won't be persecuted for evasion, but they are required to denounce the tax dodgers, under penalty of a fine.

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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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