20 May 2012

Italy 'dog and cat tax' muzzled

9:05 am on 20 May 2012

A proposal to levy a tax on cats and dogs that stunned Italy has been withdrawn on the day it was made public, in a wave of popular anger.

Italy was abuzz for hours after local media reported that a parliamentary commission had proposed a tax on domestic animals to raise revenue for debt-strapped cities and towns.

Protests were voiced by everyone from animal rights groups - who said it would prompt more people to abandon animals - to politicians who called it everything from grotesque to surreal, idiotic and shameful.

There was so much reaction that one Italian agency ran nearly 40 news items on the proposal in less than four hours.

The proposal was withdrawn by early Friday evening, however, and it seemed everyone on the commission where it was discussed was denying having proposed it.

"The only thing that's left to tax are wives and children," said parliamentarian Domenico Scilipoti.

Italy, like many other countries across the euro zone, is struggling to revive its economy and reduce its public debt, a predicament that has prompted the country's lawmakers to try to dream up new revenue-raising measures.