A conception which appears to have affected Italian fiscal theory in a significant way is that of the ruling class. If fiscal decisions are made by a ruling class, it is evident that they can only be carried out through coercion. An important group of Italian public finance theorists has tried to construct an economic theory of the fiscal activity of the ruling class stressing that the study of public finance consists in the examinations of the reasons for and the effects of the substitution of coercive collective choices for individual choices. The individual versus the State has been the core of the debate, and the effects of the State concealing its activity through the creation of fiscal illusions has been an important part of the analysis. The paper attempts to outline the role of the coercive element within the Italian tradition in public finance, to examine a few of the most important contributions and to relate them to the main stream of fiscal theory.