It’s silly season for Italian taxes. In the last couple of weeks we’ve received the Rifiuti tax and the Passo Carrabile tax. I don’t know why paying for garbage removal is a tax and not a service fee, but that’s what it is. (There’s been a nice lawsuit on this subject; it has resulted in eligibility for an IVA refund for rifiuti tax payers. Read more about that here or in Elaborations on the right). The rifiuti tax costs about the same here as it used to cost us for a year of garbage pick-up at our home in Connecticut, roughly E350. The difference, of course, is that in Connecticut the garbage man came to us; here we walk to the Cassonetto di Spazzatura (which, by the way, the Captain thinks is the most sonorous of Italian phrases). This one we have no problem with because we are getting good service for our money (and yes, we do get good garbage pick-up service).
No, the one we have trouble with is the tax for our Passo Carrabile. It’s an Italian concept, handled as only the Italians would handle it. ‘Passo Carrabile’, according to the Oxford web translator means ‘driveway,’ but it actually means any alley, drive or portal that must left accessible for the owners. In other words, don’t park here, buster.
In the U.S. it seems common sense applies more often than not – if there’s a driveway, one knows not to park across its access to the road. If there’s a store that needs access to get goods in and out, a simple ‘No Parking’ sign, available for not much money at any hardware store will do the trick. Easy!
Well, you won’t be surprised to learn it’s a little more complicated here.
About three years ago we built, at no small expense, a small parcheggio on the side of the road above our house. It was a complex project involving many permits, an engineered plan, checks by various officials during construction, new walls, etc. In fact, the file I have for “Parcheggio” is three times thicker than the file called “House Reconstruction.” Why the added fuss? Because we were building something attached to a public road. In our innocence we thought that The State would be thrilled with one less car parked on a narrow, crowded road. And insofar as permits were forthcoming without much delay, evidently they were.
But, as the saying goes, No good deed goes unpunished; and we are punished every year for our parcheggio. Because it opens directly on the road we are obliged to post Passo Carribile signs so that no one will park in the middle of the road. Seems obvious to us that no one would, especially since cars park on the other side of the street, making it impossible for more than one vehicle to pass through at a time. A car parked adjacent to our parcheggio might completely block the road. However, we have access to the street, so we must pay the tax. Apparently it is based on how many feet of opening you have on the street. Because of the steep terrain here, our parcheggio runs horizontally along the road, not perpendicular to it. We have a lot of street frontage, and we pay accordingly. Last year the Captain went to the appropriate office and said, “We don’t want a Passo Carrabile,” but he was told that because we’re on a public way we are required to have one. And what does it cost, you may ask? About the same as it costs to have garbage service.
So every year we pay for making the street we live on incrementally safer and easier to transit. Oh well. Italy is a taxing kind of country, and this is the season of silly taxes; probably the tax collector is laughing all the way to the bank.