That’ll be €1500. Can I pay in cash? Sorry sir, no.
During the summer, I was on holiday in Sud Tirol (it’s Italy, but the culture is more Austrian). We were led to our room, shown around and then asked how will we pay when we leave. The reason for the question was that a law introduced as part of Italy’s austerity measured prevents cash payments in excess of €1,000. Now, I never carry much cash, but I was thinking what an odd law. Is it to stop tax evasion? Apparently so. I read around a bit and found that Spain also has a similar law. And apparently the Italian’s actually wanted to implement the law with a lower amount.
Now, as an accountant I completely understand the issue of tax evasion, cash deals and the black economy. But where is this headed? When I done Business Studies in secondary school, I remember being thought the concept of legal tender. Pre the Euro, the Irish Punt notes were legal tender for settlement of any amount and apparently this may be still so (see here re Euro legal tender). If cash cannot be used at all, what happens when the banking systems fail? Don’t anybody tell me they can’t/won’t; see my post soon on Ulster Banks’ systems failures this summer. And if I were to get a bit political, are we perhaps in the future to trust the very banks that brought the world a financial crisis to manage all transactions. Yeah, I’m being a bit over the top perhaps, but I completely disagree with strict cash controls. There must be other ways to make businesses more tax compliant e.g. focused audits, serious penalties.