Tag Archive for: Italian Attorney

Italy’s 2019 Stability Law – Flat-Rate Tax Scheme

Italy’s 2019 Stability Law – Flat-Rate Tax Scheme

By introducing the flat-rate tax scheme in 2018, the Italian government’s objective was to boost employment. In addition, the government aimed to reduce undeclared taxable income and employment irregularities. In the 2019 stability law, the government broadened the flat-rate tax scheme.

The scheme therefore now extends to individuals operating in, the arts and independent professional activities sector. This includes individuals generating income from investment property rentals and second homes.

As well as replacing Irpef, Irap and additional taxes, the scheme establishes a tax rate of 5% for the first 5 years. This subsequently rises to 15% from the sixth year onwards. Neither VAT nor other taxes are payable.

The flat-rate tax scheme also provides an opportunity to regularise previously undeclared activities to the Italian tax authorities.

Foreign property owners may not realize that they need to declare income from rental or investment properties, even if it is seasonal and infrequent. However,  property owners may be subject to heavy penalties in case of an audit by the Italian tax authority.

Flat-rate tax calculations in the 2019 Stability Law

Taxable income in the flat-rate scheme is determined by applying profitability coefficients. These coefficients vary according to business activity. A profitability coefficient of 40% on revenues is applicable to accommodation, lodging, lettings and B&B activities.

To illustrate this:

Mr. Hunt owns a property in Tuscany, which he starts using as a seasonal holiday letting business. Mr. Hunt opts to apply for the flat-rate tax scheme.

Revenues from Mr. Hunt’s first year of lettings are € 40.000.

Based on a 40% profitability coefficient, taxable revenues would therefore amount to €16.000. At a 5% tax rate, Mr. Hunt would be liable for a tax payment of €800.

Had Mr. Hunt opted to use the personal income tax scheme, he would have paid tax of approximately € 4.300.

As you can see from the example above, for the purposes of calculating income tax, expenses are not included – income tax calculation is exclusively on revenues. Only social security contributions (INPS) are deductible from revenues.

The flat-rate tax scheme requires social security cover

It is worth bearing in mind that anyone wishing to take advantage of the flat-rate scheme, must have social security cover. Contributions are a percentage of revenues. However, a reduction of up to 35% of contributions is available and in certain cases an exemption is possible.

Any individual planning to start-up a business activity in Italy qualifies for the flat-tax scheme, provided that the individual has not carried out the same activity in the past three years and that revenues do not exceed €40.000 per annum.

Foreign residents and non-residents, who generate an income from letting their property in Italy, wishing to benefit from the flat-tax scheme, must notify the Italian tax authorities through a Notice of Business Start-Up.

Finally …

If you need help to understand your personal situation, please get in touch with us or seek advice from a qualified accountant registered with the ODCEC, the Italian professional accounting association of certified public accountants, auditors and advisors.

EU Succession Rules Harmonise Cross-Border Inheritance

In 2015, the EU introduced new succession rules to simplify cross-border inheritance matters

To benefit from the new EU succession rules, overseas nationals with assets in an EU Member State need to take action in a will.

According to The European Commission some 450,000 cross-border successions occur in the EU each year. These are estimated to be worth in excess of €120 billion. Effective from August 17th 2015, to solve confusion and prevent disputes, the EU introduced new EU succession rules. These rules allow individuals across participating EU member states to choose which country jurisdiction to apply to the devolution of their estate.

Forced heirship

Many countries in the EU, including Italy, have laws governing ‘forced heirship’. Forced heirship rules are similar to UK Intestacy rules. However, forced heirship is applicable even if there is a will. The key point is that Italian forced heirship rules take precedence over a will.

In practice, this means that close family members inherit the deceased’s property regardless of the contents of the deceased’s will. This can often be in preference to the deceased’s spouse or partner. Sometimes, this creates conflicts within families who are unfamiliar with forced heirship cultures. Particularly  if the deceased had children from previous relationships. According to Italian forced heirship rules, these children must also inherit a share of their deceased parent’s estate.

EU Regulation 650/2012 is also known as Brussels IV

The UK did not opt into Brussels IV when it was still a member of the EU. However, UK nationals with assets in EU countries that adopted the changes, which is all of them except for Ireland and Denmark, can take advantage of Brussels IV.

Brussels IV allows any overseas national who owns property in a participating EU member state to choose either the law of the country of their habitual residence, or the law of their nationality to govern succession of their EU estate. Or, if they have multiple nationalities, they can choose one of their nationalities to govern succession.

Electing a country law provides a way to circumvent forced heirship laws.

EU succession rules allow you to elect a country law in your will

If for example you are a UK national habitually resident in England with a holiday home in Italy. You can now update your English will with a choice of law codicil. This would cover the Italian property with an election for the inheritance laws of England and Wales to apply to it. It means you don’t need a separate Italian will for the Italian  holiday home.

That said, it is highly advisable to have either a bilingual Italian will or an official Italian translation of your English will.  Preferably, the translated version would be in the hands of a solicitor or notary. This will make things easier, less time-consuming and costly in the long run for the executor of your estate.

Before taking action, it’s important to understand all the implications of the EU succession rules

Before making any changes to your will, it is important to understand Brussels IV and all its implications. For example, Brussels IV does not impact inheritance tax.

As previously mentioned, Brussels IV is applicable to all foreign property owners. However, if you are habitually resident in Italy it is essential that you make or update your will in Italian. In your Italian will, you should clearly state which country’s law you wish to elect. Otherwise, because you are resident in Italy, the laws of Italy will automatically apply when dealing with succession. Again, it is important to understand the Brussels IV regulation and its impact.

Interestingly, Brussels IV does not restrict the choice of law to EU nationals. For example, a US national with property in a participating EU Member State could elect for US law to apply to the succession of their property; an Australian could nominate Australian law; a Canadian, Canadian law, and so on.

Finally …

As ever, the key is in the planning. If you want freedom of choice, you have it. Just don’t leave it until it’s too late!

Cross-border inheritance law is a complex matter. We recommend you seek independent legal advice regarding your personal situation. For more information about Italian succession and inheritance, you may find our Italian Succession Guide useful.

At De Tullio Law Firm, we have over 55 years of expertise managing cross border succession and estate planning matters throughout Italy. We are a full member of STEP, the world’s leading association for trust and estate practitioners. If you need advice, help or have any questions on cross-border inheritance matters, please get in touch.