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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.

Read the original article in Italian

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Geopolitics

Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

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