Berlusconi promises Italians if he wins elections they'll get unpopular property tax refunded

Media mogul Silvio Berlusconi is promising Italians if they vote him back into office that he will not only abolish an unpopular tax on primary residences, but he'll refund property taxes Premier Mario Monti's government made them pay in 2012.

Berlusconi abolished the tax when last elected premier in 2008, but Monti, who replaced him in 2011 as Italy sunk into the Eurozone debt crisis, revived it to help fill state coffers.

Berlusconi told a gathering of supporters Sunday the revenue lost by reimbursing homeowners the €4 billion ($5.4 billion) they paid in property taxes could be compensated by eliminating state financing for political parties, raising cigarette taxes and taxing Italians' assets in Switzerland.

The populist's center-right forces trail a center-left coalition in opinion polls ahead of Feb. 24-25 elections.