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Temi dell'attività parlamentare

Finanza, fisco e patrimonio pubblico
Taxation trends in 17th Parliament

During the 17th Parliament, several bills in favour of taxpayers were enacted, such as those regarding debts and credits setoffs between taxpayers and Public Administrations (decree-law no. 35/2013, decree-law no. 145/2013), the "80 euros benefit", aimed at increasing taxpayers' income, and the new taxation of trademarks and patents (both of them contained in the Stability Law for 2015).

Furthermore, a number of bills were aimed at fighting tax evasion and improving tax compliance, such as the bill concerning the "voluntary disclosure" of assets held abroad by Italian citizens, and the reverse charge and split payment VAT mechanisms.

Other measures regard the introduction of "protection clauses" (by means of tax relief cuts, or indirect taxation increase) in order to preserve public finances.

Regarding the new taxation of real estate assets, the Enabling Act on tax matters – that is being implemented these months - contains specific provisions regarding cadastral reform.

Reducing tax burdens on citizens and re-designing municipal taxes
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According to decree-law no. 66/2014, employees have been given a tax credit on personal income tax, whose amount was up to 640 euros for the year 2014. The Stability law for 2015 has made this tax benefit permanent. On the other side, some benefits on permanent job contracts have been introduced to lower the regional business tax (IRAP) for enterprises and, subsequently, to lower the tax burden on labour.

A new municipal tax was introduced by the Stability Law for 2014, called Imposta Unica Comunale – IUC (Unified Municipal Tax), based on two conditions:

  • the first one is related to the ownership of real estate assets; under the name of municipal tax (IMU), it is a property tax paid by all real estate owners, which anyway is not due on principal residences. Since 2016, IMU has been introduced on property tax for agricultural and industrial activities;
  • the second condition is related to municipal services. It is split into two taxes: the first one, called TASI, is connected to the so-called "indivisible municipal services" (such as public lighting, police, registry offices and so on) and it is paid by both owners and actual users of real estate properties.  TARI is paid only by actual users of real estates. Since 2016, TASI on main dwellings has been abolished. The other component is the so called TARI, whose revenue is meant to finance costs related to waste collection and disposal.

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Fighting tax evasion

As far as fighting against tax fraud and tax evasion is concerned, the Stability law for 2014 created the so-called "Fund to reduce the tax burden", financed with those savings obtained through spending review procedures, and also by resources coming from the fight against tax evasion.

Italy's activity on international tax cooperation is being conducted through agreements with foreign countries on information exchange and collaboration between tax revenues authorities. Domestic laws have subsequently been changed, for instance by modifying "black lists" of non-collaborative countries and by changing rules on treatment of assets and incomes coming from tax havens.

Bill no. 186/2014 introduced the so called "voluntary disclosure" procedure, encouraging taxpayers to disclose assets kept abroad to tax revenues authorities; according to OECD recommendations, this procedure implies a reduction of sanctions (both fines and criminal consequences) in case of compliance.

Tax design to sustain economic growth
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Most tax legislation efforts of the current Parliament are aimed to sustain economic growth, by giving both taxpayers and enterprises new benefits and reducing tax burdens.

With respect to the housing sector, the abovementioned Stability Law for 2015 extended the time limits to take advantage of the 65% tax reduction in favour of those who upgrade energy efficiency of buildings, also extending this benefit to earthquake prevention measures, especially in earthquake belts; the same bill has also extended the period of time to take advantage of tax reductions (50%) for building improvements.

Moreover, tax advantages for new infrastructure have been extended and the joint liability of contractors for VAT payments has been eliminated.

Also musical and show business enterprises can take advantage of new bills aimed to sustain economic growth. Musical enterprises (thanks to decree-law no. 91/2013) were given a tax credit on production, development, digitalization and promotion expenses. The so-called "cinema tax credit" is now permanent; there are further indirect tax advantages for cinema and show business enterprises.

The whole decree-law no. 145/2013 was meant to sustain economic growth, by giving tax credits / advantages to those enterprises who invest in research and development; it contains rules aimed to encourage enterprise internalization, digitalization and web connection, and measures to ease the credit crunch for small and medium businesses.

There is no longer a withholding tax for EU-based investors, with respect to interest and other income coming from unlisted bonds in private placement, on interest and other income coming from bonds and similar securities underwritten by insurance companies (decree-law n. 66/2014). 

The Stability law for 2015 has also implemented a special treatment of revenues sourced from patents and trademarks, with a tax relief of 30% in 2015, 40% in 2016 and 50% from 2017 onwards (patent box).

To sustain economic growth, new tax credits have been given: first of all, there is a 15% tax credit on additional investment in machinery and capital goods over the €10,000 threshold (decree-law n. 91/2014) and the additional 25% tax credit on investment in R&D (50% if contracted with universities, research centers or other qualifying firms) thanks to decree-law n. 145/2013.

Furthermore Decree-law no. 91/2014 fostered specific economic sectors, such as food processing industry (tax credits aimed to sustain innovation and to support "made in Italy" products) and, on a wider scale, small businesses, by extending tax benefits on some financial assets (bonds and similar assets). Tax treatment of financial assets was in general rationalized, especially with regard to assets issued by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti to finance Public Administrations. The tax treatment of Cassa Depositi e Prestiti is now closer to that of banks.

Decree-law no. 3/2015 extended some benefits – including tax benefits – already envisaged for innovative start-ups also to the new category of innovative medium-small enterprises.

The Stability Law for 2016 has also reduced corporate tax rate (IRES) from 2017. 

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New taxes and duties

A set of specific tax measures were introduced to ensure the funding of spending bills, and to offset the reduction of tax burden on workers and enterprises.

The Stability law for 2015 introduced a new protection clause, aimed at protecting public finance balances, that will increase ordinary and reduced VAT rates (of 2.5 and 2 percentage points respectively) and excise duties on fuels, if further revenues cannot be obtained by reducing public expenditure or by other means.

At the same time, the previous protection clause - introduced by the Stability law for 2014 – was postponed by a year, and its financial effects were curtailed. According to this clause, tax benefits – tax expenditures - will be reduced if revenues do not grow according to spending review activities.

The Government decided to rationalize rules concerning some "minor" indirect taxes (such as cadastral register taxes) applied on the buying/selling of real estate, whose amounts were lowered to help the housing sector and in some cases increased to find financial resources for other items of expenditure.

Taxation of capital gains was increased too (its rate was brought from 20% to 26%).

Enabling Act on tax reform
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Law no. 23/2014 has given Government delegated powers to realize a more equal, transparent and growth-oriented taxation system, with the aim at reducing the tax burden on citizens. Its 16 articles provide for, among other measures, general principles on delegation of legislative powers and related procedures; a revision of land registry rules; new rules on monitoring and combating tax evasion; regulations on so called "rights abuses" in order to combat tax avoidance; reinforced cooperation between revenue authorities and enterprises, also by introducing new forms of tax "tutoring", simplification measures and by reviewing tax sanctions; the reinforcement of controls; the review of fiscal cases' procedures and of the tax collection system for municipalities; the review of company taxes, especially of present benefits that apply to specific categories of taxpayers. The regulations on public gaming, as well as environmental taxation, are among the topics to be reviewed and discussed according to the abovementioned enabling Act.

To implement the Enabling Act on tax reform, the following bills have been adopted:

  • tax simplification measures (D.Lgs. n. 175/2014)
  • the review of Cadastral Committees, (D.Lgs. n. 198/2014);
  • the review of excise duties on tobacco products (D.Lgs. n. 188/2014);
  • a bill concerning automatic transmission of VAT operations and controls on supplies of goods by means of vending machines (D.Lgs. n. 127/2015);
  • a bill concerning legal security in relationships between tax revenue authorities and taxpayers (D.Lgs. n. 128/2015);
  • a bill concerning tax measures on internationalization of enterprises (D.Lgs. n. 147/2015);
  • a reform of internal organization of Tax Revenue Authorities (D.Lgs. n. 157/2015);
  • a revision of criminal and tax fines (D.Lgs. n. 158/2015);
  • simplification and rationalization of tax collection procedures (D.Lgs. n. 159/2015);
  • legal mechanisms set in order to monitor tax expenditures and tax evasion (D.Lgs. n. 160/2015).
  • a reform of tax controversy procedures (D.Lgs. n. 156/2015);
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