Critics of the crackdown say it has been tried before and is ineffective against a massive black market that has, well, always existed in Italy. The total amount of non-taxed funds in Italy is estimated to be between $150 and $190 billion (although much of that is related to the mafia, not traditional tax cheats). The black market is as much as 17 percent of GDP, according to the national statistics agency.
It's not clear whether, as Befera insists, the crackdown will change Italians' feelings about paying taxes. He cites polls in which an overwhelming majority of Italians supported the police checks on luxury cars and high-profile businesses as a positive sign.
Of course, most people would say they want everyone else to pay more in taxes. As Befera's deputy, Marco di Capua, recently told Reuters: "Everyone's against tax evasion -- when it's someone else doing it."
As for the Ferrari owner, he admitted that his beloved car, which he has owned for more than 10 years, was a "magnet" for tax police. And he admitted that he was keeping it in the garage for now – though not because of the tax checks.
With the recent hikes in gasoline prices, he said, "it's just too expensive to drive."