Aside from the irony of being the head of Ferrari, the ultimate four-wheeled symbol of private wealth, Montezemolo’s pronouncement also seems to contradict some of his past views on taxes. In 2005 and 2006, he crusaded for lower taxes on companies. He called on the government to reduce a labor tax that he said made worker costs in Italy too high. His prescription was to reduce labor taxes and social security costs by 10% in five years.
Of course, some of Montezemolo’s motivation may be political. He is a longtime critic of Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlesconi, saying his leadership has created too much uncertainty for business. And Montezemolo’s previous calls for lower taxes on companies (rather than individuals) came at a different point in the nation’s economic cycle. Times are tougher now. He has always said that tax authorities in Italy could do a better job cracking down on tax evasion.
The fact that Montezemolo is now brandishing the “Tax the Rich” pitchfork will no doubt come as a surprise to many Ferrari buyers in Italy and elsewhere. I am sure his suggestion will not go down well with most of Ferrari’s well-to-do customers. However, his view suggests that even the world’s luxury elite are now worried about government debt crises.