Since early 2016, Italians have been paying combined TV licence fees and electricity bills in a bid to reduce tax evasion. Did it work?

In late 2015 the Italian government announced that, for the first time, citizens would soon find their TV licence fees, known as ‘canone’, in their electricity bills.

The move was taken to encourage the collection of what has been described asone of the most hated taxes by Italians’, and ultimately reduce evasion. The measure seems to have worked.

“The operation ‘license fees in the bills’ has worked better than expected’ said Antonio Giacomelli, the undersecretary for economic development also in charge of telecommunications. The income revenue authority has estimated that this year’s evasion will amount to around 5-10%, contrary to the 25-30% of the previous years.

According to the provisional figures available, less tax evasion will lead to an increased revenue of €2 billion for public television, compared with €1.6 billion last year.

This could also lead to a reduction in the cost of the licence fee: “from next year the TV licence fee will go down from €100 to €90,” said Giacomelli. Meanwhile the government is advising citizens who haven’t yet paid the licence to do so before the end of the year to prevent pricey fines.

Giacomelli also spoke about advertising saying that Rai should make a more moderate use of it, describing it as an ‘accessory that the channel should be using in a more honest way’. This and possible changes to the editorial plan will be discussed towards the end of the month when drafting the new editorial plan for the upcoming year.

The final report with a better estimate of the measure’s success and with the official figures for revenue and evasion will be available in January.

Header Image: RAI’s headquarters in Florence, ItalyCredits: Sailko/Creative Commons