Labour Minister Elsa Fornero has dismissed ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's plan to abolish the IMU property tax as impossible.
Premier Mario Monti's emergency government introduced the tax as part of an austerity package passed in December to put Italy's public finances in order.
"The abolition of IMU is not within reach, it cannot be done and there is no use saying it can," Fornero, a leading member of Monti's cabinet of non-political technocrats that came in after the financial crisis forced Berlusconi to quit as premier in November, told Rai television late on Tuesday.
"The international community would punish us immediately and it would be necessary to make a U-turn immediately".
Berlusconi, whose 2008-2011 government abolished a similar tax, said at the weekend that IMU would be scrapped if his People of Freedom (PdL) party wins next year's general elections.
The 75-year-old media magnate said he has not yet decided whether he will run for a fourth term as Italian premier but leading PdL members have said he will be their candidate. Berlusconi had said he would not stand for another term after he resigned in November to end his third term as Italian premier.