At school with the Belle tasse (nice taxes)



L’esempio dei bambini – Learning from the children

Il Corriere della Sera Cronaca di Roma, 13th Oct, 2006


“… Those who, like us, had the good fortune to attend this unique event, will not forget what they saw. The chairman of the board, a very serious little girl, stared at the rate of forty per cent. A group of dreaded tax collectors went to collect the money, their lips already smeared with chocolate. The accountants got to work. What did they find? In the trunk there should have been €440. But there was €25 less. Where were the crafty ones who, instead of putting in coins, had only put in the gold wrappers? Embarrassed looks all round. Then something unexpected happened. A boy came forward saying he had miscalculated, and handed over three chocolate coins as a sign of compensation…”




Un modello  – A model

L’indice dei libri del mese. L’indice della scuola, March 2008, XXV, n. 3, p. 1


“… We believe that the children who took part in the learning game will not easily forget what the meaning of public spending, fiscal honesty and obligation, democratic decision-making, penalties, etc. is. These notions, which they have already shown that they possess unconsciously and which have been brought to light in a Socratic manner, will not be easily forgotten. This is particularly true of the idea of “individual sacrifice in the interest of the collectivity”, an idea which, it has been noted, is something elemental and deep-seated, and therein exists, I might add, the pre-condition of any form of democratic life…”




Dai, giochiamo alle tasse  – Come on, let’s play taxes

Domenicale del Sole 24 Ore, 26th April, 2009


“… When Fichera said that the tax collectors would come round to collect the taxes, the children clung onto their little nest-eggs and shouted out their “Noes”, their mouths all sporting braces. But then they dropped their defences as soon as the moderator told them that if there are schools, if the roads are lit up, if the flowerbeds are well preserved, it is all because there are taxes. He even said that if there were no taxes, it would be more difficult to help all the people who no longer have a home to go to in Abruzzo. The children were so disarmed by this new understanding of taxes that in an instant the room became a forest of raised hands…”




Il bene comune si impara dai bambini  – The common good from the mouths of babes

Il Sole 24 Ore, 23 May 2011


“… For two hours, one hundred children followed the experiment in absolute silence, making suggestions and asking questions, such as how do you punish the tax evaders? Or with exclamations of surprise like the little girl, daughter of a firefighter, who exclaimed: “So my mother is paid with the taxes!” The main theme, once it was clear what taxes were for, was: but if everyone has to pay them, how do we know how they will be spent? “No taxation without representation”, and so the answer was that the only way to “defend oneself” is to express one’s choices by voting…”




Il gioco delle tasse  The taxes game

Internazionale, n. 899, 17th May, 2011


“… Unlike other experts who try to explain adult things to children, Fichera has the merit of not starting from his ideas and arguments, seeking to prove them; rather he follows the opposite path, starting from a few simple questions and gradually arriving at the answers. This empirical method, balancing the power of the message (taxes are necessary) with respectfully listening to different opinions, openness to various proposals and, more generally, confidence in the ability of the learner to arrive at conclusions alone, once the underlying mechanisms have been understood, is a good model of democratic education…”




Le tasse? Un gioco da bambini – Taxes? Child’s play

Il Secolo XIX, 26th April, 2011


“… It’s an easy game. The children receive bags containing chocolate coins of random amounts, from a minimum of five to a maximum of twenty-five, and then a piece of paper and a pen for their tax return. The Head and members of the Government are selected from the group. They will decide on the allocation of the funds raised, but there are also tax collectors and administrators to supervise and monitor the tax returns, like a mini Revenue Office, thus creating an organized community. At the centre of the hall is the coffer of the Treasury, which must collect the taxes…”



Se il fanciullino scopre le tasse  – When a young child discovers taxes,  1st Aug, 2011


“… Taxes fund the public services, reconciling the interests of the individual and the community. They involve a relegation of authority that clashes with the individualistic instinct of homo oeconomicus, yet they respond to a primal need to create bonds and ties. Fichera’s hundred children, in their game with pencils and chocolate coins, learn the rules of the adult world and together they discover within themselves the innate feelings of hope, distrust and justice to which these rules should answer. As when in “Dead Poets Society”, Keating asked his students to climb up on the desks to see the world from a new perspective, “Le belle tasse” invites us to squat down and look again through the eyes of the nine-year-old we once were. It guides us on a journey of inner rediscovery, it forces us to acknowledge the profound beauty of taxes, with the naive and inflexible logic of childhood…”




I bambini e le tasse  – Children and taxes

Corriere della sera Corriere del Mezzogiorno, 21st Oct, 2011


“… It’s a fun and fascinating account of the discussion that takes place between the students. Some believe the level of taxation is too low (a rate of 40% had been set), while others thought it too high. A child wondered why the rich had to pay so much since they were rich by their own merits, others asked to be able to keep a little more of the “income” for the family. Then the decision was taken to use the money collected for the various needs of the people (schools, green areas, safety and security, sports, etc..) and the discussion got even more  lively…”


I bambini a lezione di fisco. ‘Chi non paga va in carcere?’  – Children taking lessons in taxes. ‘If you don’t pay, do you go to prison?’

La Repubblica Cronaca di Firenze, 26th Nov, 2011

“… “Just a moment” a young girl in a white smock jumps up. “So rich people pay more than poor people?” …. Well, yes, that’s what the Constitution says, too. Mmmh. “And if a rich person pretends to be poor?”. “It is not fair to the others”, Fichera explains. “But what is wealth?”. “A lot of wealth depends on the earnings obtained from work,” comes the answer. “And what if I’m very poor?”. In that case, the teacher suggests, the government should make a wise decision taking the situation into account. Why do we lose the lucidity of childhood when we grow up? “Please, Sir”, asks a child with disarming logic, “how does the State make people pay?” “And what happens if someone doesn’t pay, do they go to jail? Does he get a life sentence? Do they take his house away?” Fichera tries to stem the flood…”


Tasse, dolci tasse – Taxes, sweet taxes

LiBeR 93, January-March 2012

“… It was an amusing task, with a spirit of “cognitive tension”. This is how Alberto Manzi described the curiosity that drives children to want to learn something new, making them active participants in the work of teaching/learning. It is in this context that play becomes a powerful “teaching device”, not a mere “distraction” from routine teaching. In playing a game, we “teach”, but the children also teach us, because being active and curious leads them to ask questions, to make choices that force us to reflect and come up with non-prepackaged answers. In this sense, play is always a challenge, even when, as in the “nice taxes” game, in the end there is no winner or loser, but the desire to “see how it ends” is still strong…”

Le tasse s’imparano giocando – Learning taxes by playing

Avvenire – Popotus, 19th April, 2012

“… Then the difficult moment: time to pay up. Anyone who does, or declares something different from the real wealth so as to pay less, becomes a tax evader, but is neither identified nor punished. His or her punishment is only moral, in the sense that when the collectors have finished collecting the money, and the Government, along with the other children, decides how to spend it for the good of all, anyone who has not paid realizes that through their fault, it won’t be possible to do everything that’s needed…”


I bimbi giocano a pagare le tasse  – Children play at paying taxes

Corriere della Sera Corriere Fiorentino, 19th Apr 2013

“If someone doesn’t work, how do they pay their taxes?”, “What does the government do with the money?” “I don’t want to name names, but someone hasn’t paid…”. Today’s children and taxpayers of tomorrow “play” at paying taxes and, hands raised, ask for explanations. This is the initiative called “nice taxes”… On Friday morning in the main hall of the thirteenth-century Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of the city council, 100 schoolchildren from Classes 4 and 5 of the Giotto and Fanciulli elementary schools simulated being a community, taking on various roles: 10 represented the Government, with even a Prime Minister, 5 played the part of tax collectors, 5 acted as administrators, and the rest were ordinary citizens. Each child was randomly given varying amounts of chocolate coins, then each taxpayer worked out how much tax they had to pay… The government collected the taxes and chose how to spend the money: the lion’s share went to schools, hospitals and the poor… The children discussed among themselves, asked questions, asked for explanations, and thus got to know the concepts of “community”, “government,” “taxes,” “spending”, “evasion” and “penalties”… “


Vi racconto “le belle tasse”  I’m going to tell you about “nice taxes”

Ruvo Libera, 4th May, 2013

“… There is a man who guides children in their understanding. I don’t know him, he introduces himself. First the name, Franco Fichera; and then one sentence: “Taxes are an individual sacrifice for the common good”. The spark … And as my attention increases, I remain in silence to observe the magnificent flash of lesser sparks. Questions, two hours of questions. The curiosity of a child of eleven about a topic like this is disarming. And what about you? Are you curious? I jotted a few down:  “Why have I got five coins and he has more? … But if we can eat the coins, how do we pay taxes when they’ve all gone? … If we finish them, can we go to work to make some more? … Are there any loan sharks? … Does the government pay taxes too? … Is there a way to tell if the citizens have paid their taxes? … What happens if I’m a debt collector and I take two coins instead of one ? …” Now it’s time to distribute the coins that have come in among the various items of expenditure. A little girl suggests more cycle paths and gardens to run around in … “…it’s good for your health… so we spend less money on the health service … “. One child, on the other hand, wanted to solve the problem of uneven pavements, another would like to clear the graffiti off the walls; others would like to eat more chocolate and thus pay less tax. One of the tax collectors replies: “You want more services paying fewer taxes! But you can’t do that! “…”

MINISTRY of Economy and Finance

Rapporto sull’evasione fiscale 2014 –  2014 Report on Tax Evasion

Rome 2014

“… And legality cannot be defended without also making known its profound cultural vision which permeates the reflections and the policies proposed today, and forms the backdrop to the other policy objectives behind government action. Here is why the document closes with “the colour of taxes”: the young schoolchildren were asked to reflect on the theme of participation of all in public expenditure, one of the obligations laid down in our Constitution (…). Children, as always, do not fail to amaze with the depth and maturity of their ideas, perhaps showing even greater sensitivity than adults. “Taxes” are green, like hope in a better future, yellow like the sun or the school gate, paid for using money from everyone, brown like the roots of a tree which allow the branches to thrive, in the same way as taxes feed the public services [ The colour of taxes ]. Listening to younger people and taking their future to heart is the first step in improving our country”.


Le tasse bisogna studiarle da piccoli  – We should study taxes from an early age

Il Sole 24 Ore, 4th April 2016

“Who would ever feel like travelling around Italy claiming that taxes are “nice”? Inevitable, perhaps, or necessary, maybe, but not “nice”, after all the controversy sparked by the famous phrase of Minister Tommaso Padoa Schioppa … But Franco Fichera … not only felt like doing it, but since 2005 he has been explaining to the children of the fourth and fifth classes of elementary schools what fees are, why it is a bad thing for everyone not to pay them, and how they can be “nice” … But does he really like them? A child once asked him this question in a letter. You can read the answer here at the side [ The taxes game ]. Perhaps if they explained it to us as they explain it to children, we adults might remember the meaning of taxes.”