Italian labor union CGIL has filed a lawsuit with 50 migrants. They want the state to refund the migrants because they had to pay an additional tax when applying for a residency permit.
Italy's biggest and most left-wing trade union CGIL has joined a lawsuit presented by 50 immigrants in the northern city of Lecco. They are requesting a refund for an additional tax on residency permit applications that was first introduced in 2011 by Silvio Berlusconi's government.
Migrants each had to pay an extra 80 and 200 euros, in addition to the roughly 73 euros already paid for the procedure.
The secretary general of CGIL in Lombardy, Elena Lattuada, said the union had decided to back the lawsuit because it is "always beside those suffering from injustice." The union is paying for the immigrants' legal expenses.
Tax deemed 'disproportionate' in 2015
In 2015, the European Court of Justice ruled that the tax was "disproportionate." According to CGIL, the judges found that the tax made it economically difficult for foreigners to apply for a residency permit.
Lazio's regional administrative tribunal TAR and the Council of State, Italy's top administrative court, subsequently annulled the ministerial decree that had introduced the additional tax. They ruled that it needed to be replaced by another tax, provided it was "not excessive" and that the difference between the new tax and the "disproportionate" tax must be paid back to applicants.
'Italy never paid back the difference'
CGIL said that "Italy never gave back what it owed," even though the migrants requested reimbursements.
The collective lawsuit has been filed with the assistance of attorney Alberto Guariso of the Association of Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI).
"A total of 1,134,000 people across Italy have a short-term residency permit," said Guariso. Because the additional tax has been increased three times over six years, "the state is illicitly holding on to a sum that we believe is over 160 million (euros)," he said.