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Harassment, Italian style

Ferrari FF in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy -- a rare sight growing rarer. (Ferrari/Reuters)

Ferrari FF in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy -- a rare sight growing rarer. (Ferrari/Reuters)

Drivers of super-luxury sports cars in Italy bemoan what they call unfair laws aimed at curbing tax evasion.

As BBC News reports, Italian motorists have largely stopped buying or driving flashy cars altogether, for fear of being stopped and questioned by police about their tax filing status.

In 2012, both Ferrari and Maserati experienced sharp declines in their home market, with Ferrari sales falling by 56% and Maserati’s by an astounding 72%.

Although analysts have attributed these declines to Italy’s ailing economy, affluent motorists and industry representatives see things differently, as the BBC recently reported:

"The head of the Italian motor traders' federation Federauto, Filippo Pavan Bernacchi, blamed 'an overdose of taxes aimed at hitting, if not criminalising, the acquisition, ownership and use of cars'.

In addition to taxing motoring directly, Italian authorities have also been specifically targeting the owners of Ferraris and other supercars to check that they are paying enough tax.

There have been numerous reports of police officers stopping such cars, and demanding that the driver produces his or her tax registration ID."

It is not just affluent Italians who are feeling the pinch. In 2012, new car sales in Italy declined by 19.9% overall.

The country has significant debts, unemployment is rising and both investment and consumer spending are down. To prevent the economy from deteriorating further, the government has enacted new measures aimed at catching tax cheats, including setting up checkpoints outside luxury resorts.

Has the Italian government been too heavy-handed in its effort to ensure compliance with tax codes? Sound off on our Facebook page.