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An Italian industry group says low sales of Ferrari and Maserati sports cars in their homeland this year are directly related to the new government’s widely publicised tax fraud spot checks and increased vehicle taxes.

Reuters reports Italian car dealer group Federauto says Ferrari sales dropped 51.5 per cent in the first quarter of this year, while Maserati took an even bigger hit, plummeting 70 per cent compared with the first three months of 2011.

The result has led Federauto chairman Filippo Pavan Bernacchi to call on the government to “step back” from its heightened tax investigations to take the pressure off the country’s automotive industry, which is already under significant strain from Europe’s tenuous financial situation.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti earlier this year gave authorities the power to perform spot checks on motorists, specifically targeting those behind the wheel of expensive luxury and sports cars who seemingly have the most to hide.

Bernacchi said a number of sports car owners were now trying to get rid of their cars or were keeping them hidden away in the garage for fear of being stopped and subjected to a fraud spot check.

Federauto estimates Italy’s economy could lose 105 million euros ($133 million) in revenue in 2012 because of reduced sales of luxury cars.

Bernacchi said Federauto unreservedly supported the fight against tax evasion but “challenges the demonisation of the possession of such property”, and is concerned that “in this sort of witch hunt” it is Italian manufacturers, dealers and their employees that will be hurt most.

Previous Italian governments heightened taxes on boats, helicopters and aeroplanes under a similar principle, but later removed them to limit damage to the economy.

Tax evasion is deeply entrenched in Italian society, although the government is beginning to make inroads. According to the New York Times, last year authorities recovered 11.5 billion euros in uncollected taxes, up more than 200 per cent compared with a decade ago.

The news follows our report from earlier this week that Maserati is targeting 50,000 global sales by 2015 following the launch of its upcoming SUV and mid-sized sedan.

  • F1MotoGP

    I am not jealous but some rich pay less or No Tax than the average man on the street.

    • IfItAintARotorItAintAMotor

      To be fair to the rich people, if you can avoid paying as much tax as possible, then more power to you.  I’m not advocating NOT paying tax, but limiting what you pay…

  • Pauly

    Seriously? Look if you are a honest working person, and you have worked hard enough to earn enough to buy an Italian sports car (Ferrari, Lambo, Masa etc), hats off to you.

    BUT! If the way you have got there is buy ripping off and cheating your country, you deserve to have the car taken off you and everything else that comes with it (house, helecopter, boat).

    • Damian

      How do you define “ripping off and cheating”? I am not a supporter of the Robin Hood mentality of taking from the rich and giving to the poor. This leads to a welfare society, which Australia is heading towards. If one can legally minimise their taxation liabilities, as opposed to outright evasion, then kudos to them.

      • Pauly

         A Car website is not really a place to discuss Taxation and Governments. But how on earth do you expect to run a country without tax’s?

        You are already seeing what happens to countries when people dodge paying Tax in Greece, Italy and Spain….

        Sure there are other things at play in these countries that have contributed to their issues.

        But thinking that paying ‘too much’ tax is a bad thing, in some cases isnt.

        Canada, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Belgium and Netherlands are some of the highest taxed countries from memory. They are also up there with being the most livable.

        You cant expect to have the way of life you do in Australia, and alot of other countries for free. It comes at a price. And its a price I think alot of people would be happy to pay if they saw what other issues other not so fortunate countries are currently dealing with.

        Thats my 2c anyway…

  • Pauly

    All those stats are stating is that 50% of Ferrari owners and 70% of Maserati owners in Italy are tax cheats!

    Like I said above, if the way you have achieved your expensive lifestyle or expensive car taste is by ripping off your country and government, thus making everyone else around you suffer, you do not deserve these cars.

    Its sad that the FIAT group is hurting that much, but what would you rather Fiat? your country to implode from people not paying Tax? or being able to make a quick buck from a dodgy, dishonest customer group?

    oh wait…

    ….there is a reason Italy is in as much trouble as it is….

  • xxSmall_Boi99xx

    No tax checks : Good for Ferrari & Masa.

    Tax checks : Good for the country (Italy)

    You decide.

  • Ypsilon

    Italian tax cheats should be concerned and its no coincidence that Ferrari & Maserati sales are down with

    The “Guardis Di Finanza” Finance Police patrol the streets. These guys are armed with machine Guns and Kevler Body Armour. There sole responsibility is to find Tax Cheats and arrest and prosecute you. You could be arrested for failing to have a Tax Invoice on you for that Newspaper you just purchased plus massive penalties for merchants failing to provide Tax Invoice Receipts.
    I remember being chased down by a Breadshop owner when I was in Italy because I left my receipt on the counter and the Finance Police were apparently patrolling the Piazza area of town.

  • Jerrycan

    Funniest thing I have read all week.
    Cannot wait for what happens when the Greeks are asked to pay their taxes.