Value-added tax (VAT)
Italian VAT (Imposta sul Valore Aggiunto) applies to the supply of goods and services carried out in Italy by entrepreneurs, professionals, or artists and on importations carried out by anyone. Intra-Community acquisitions are also subject to VAT under certain situations.
The Italian standard VAT rate is 22%. Reduced rates are provided for specifically listed supplies of goods and services, such as:
- 4% for listed food, drinks, and agricultural products, and e-books/e-periodicals that meet certain requirements.
- 5% for certain health services, for the sale of food herbs, and for certain transport services on seas, lakes, and rivers.
- 10% for electric power supplies for listed uses and listed drugs.
Intra-Community supplies and exports are exempt from VAT under certain conditions.
Under certain conditions, transactions with taxable persons who usually carry out export of goods are exempt from VAT with right to deduct. The exemption with right to deduction is subject to the following procedures:
- The usual exporter is required to submit via electronic means the declaration of intent, which can concern more than one transaction, to the Italian tax authorities, who will issue a receipt with a specific protocol number.
- The supplier is required to check, on the Italian tax authorities’ website or in its own Tax Box (Cassetto Fiscale), whether the letter of intent has been duly submitted. After checking the above, the protocol number of the receipt has to be quoted on each invoice issued without application of VAT towards the usual exporter. With reference to the applicable penalties in relation to the supplier who does not take care to check whether the letter of intent has been duly submitted, a substantial penalty ranging from 100% to 200% of the VAT amount applies.
- In case of import, the importer of goods has to quote on the customs declaration the details of the protocol number of the receipt.
The content of the declarations of intent is defined by Act no. 96911/2020 of the Italian tax authorities.
The Italian tax authorities will carry out specific risk analysis and substantial controls with the aim to prevent the release of fake declarations of intent and to invalidate those fake declarations already issued.
- if, as a result of the above-mentioned analyses, the Italian tax authorities find out that one taxable person does not meet the conditions to issue a 'declaration of intent', the latter will be prevented from the possibility of issuing new declarations of intent via electronic means to the Italian tax authorities, and
- it will no longer be allowed for the supplier to issue an invoice ('exempt from VAT according to article 8, paragraph 1, let. c, Presidential Decree no. 633/1972' as VAT treatment) via the SDI (Sistema di Interscambio) with the indication of the protocol number of a declaration of intent invalidated by the Italian tax authorities.
Through Act no. 293390/2021, the Italian tax authorities defined the criteria related to the internal checks they will carry out on the usual exporters. In this respect, in case an irregularity is detected, the Italian tax authorities could also invalidate the declaration of intent sent by the usual exporter.
Specific supplies of goods and services expressly listed in the law are exempt from VAT (e.g. hospital and medical care, education, insurance services, specific financial services, supply, leasing of particular immovable property). Other specifically listed transactions are also out of the VAT application scope (e.g. transfer of money, transfer of going concern).
Input VAT on purchases of goods and services related to business activity generally is allowed for recovery. Special limitations apply in relation to specific items (e.g. cars, entertainment expenses) and to companies carrying out both taxable transactions and transactions exempt from VAT with no right to deduct.
The filing deadline for the annual VAT return is 30 April of the following year.
Taxable persons resident or established in Italy are required to submit the cross-border communication to the Italian tax authorities with the data related to the supply of goods and services provided/received to/from parties not VAT established or VAT registered in Italy. This obligation does not apply for non-established taxable persons, even if registered in Italy through direct VAT identification or a tax representative and for subjects eligible for special tax treatments ('regime di vantaggio' or 'regime forfettario'). Starting from the year 2020, the above-mentioned communication has to be submitted on a quarterly basis (i.e. within the end of the month following the relevant quarter). In particular, the above-mentioned deadline is applicable starting from the documents issued/received during the month of November 2019.
In this respect, Law no. 215/2021, amending paragraph 3-bis of article 1 of Legislative Decree no. 127/2015, provides that the cross-border communication will be abolished as of 1 July 2022. Indeed, from 1 July 2022, the data related to the supplies of goods and provisions of services received/carried out from/in favour of taxable persons not established in Italy (i.e. taxable persons established in the European Union or outside the European Union) must be communicated to the Italian tax authorities in the e-invoicing format (i.e. XML) and via the SDI. In particular, the above-mentioned data will be communicated to the Italian tax authorities within the following deadlines:
- The transmission of data relating to the transactions carried out towards foreign customers should be carried out within the deadlines of issuance of the invoices or documents that certify the considerations.
- The transmission of data relating to transactions received within the 15th day of the month following the receipt of the document regarding the transaction.
The above applies on a mandatory basis to transactions carried out starting from 1 July 2022, and on an optional basis for transactions carried out from 1 January 2022. In other words, if the taxable person, according to the new technical specifications regarding e-invoicing, issued and submitted through the SDI the cross-border invoices, it is not required to communicate the related transactions in the cross-border communication.
Article 1, paragraph 1104, Law no. 178/2020 provides that, from 1 January 2022, for the omission or incorrect communication of transactions carried out with foreign counterparties, an administrative penalty of EUR 2 per each invoice is applied, up to a limit of EUR 400 per month. The penalty is reduced by half, within the limit of EUR 200 for each month, if the transmission is made within 15 days from the deadline.
Electronic invoicing obligations
Starting from 1 January 2019, a mandatory electronic invoicing obligation is in place for the supplies of goods or services carried out between persons that are resident or established in Italy. This obligation does not apply for non-established taxable persons, even if registered in Italy through direct VAT identification or a tax representative.
Electronic invoices should be:
- converted into .XML format, in accordance with technical specifications referred to format currently used to send electronic invoices towards the public administration
- signed with a qualified or digital signature, and
- sent to the counterpart through the SDI.
Electronic invoicing is also mandatory for business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions, where the supplier has the obligation to issue an invoice, with certain different specifications.
For the transmission of electronic invoices, the taxpayers, upon agreements between the parties, can rely on qualified intermediaries. However, the supplier will still be responsible for the issuance of the invoice in front of the Italian tax authorities.
On an experimental basis, in relation to the transactions carried out from 1 July 2021, the Italian tax authorities made available the draft of the following documents:
- Sales VAT ledger.
- Purchases VAT ledger.
- Communications of periodical VAT settlements.
For the transactions carried out starting from 1 January 2022, the draft of the Annual VAT returns is also available.
As for 2021 and 2022, the Italian tax authorities have limited the above to Italian established taxable persons who carry out VAT payments on a quarterly basis.
E-invoicing regime between Italy and San Marino
A mandatory electronic invoicing obligation has also been introduced for supplies of goods between taxable persons established in Italy and taxable persons established in the Republic of San Marino.
The Ministry of Finance’s Decree dated 21 June 2021 defined the rules related to the issuance of e-invoices for the supplies of goods and services carried out with counterparties resident in San Marino.
The Decree has come into force starting from 1 October 2021; however, until 30 June 2022, it will be possible to issue paper invoices, according to the procedures established by the Decree, to San Marino counterparts.
However, starting from 1 July 2022, it will be mandatory for the Italian taxpayers to issue only electronic invoices.
The invoicing process towards business customers resident in San Marino provides some peculiarities compared to the SDI process currently in force for domestic supplies. In particular:
- The electronic invoices and the credit/debit notes related to supplies of goods shipped or transported into the Republic of San Marino, once sent to the SDI, will be transmitted by the latter to the tax office of San Marino, which, after some checks, should validate the invoice by submitting a specific communication to the Italian tax authorities. Accordingly, the outcome of the checks made by the San Marino tax office will be made available by the Italian tax authorities to the Italian supplier through an appropriate IT channel.
- In this respect, as indicated in Article 3 of the Decree, in the event that in the four months following the issuance of the invoice the San Marino tax office does not validate the invoice, the Italian supplier should issue a credit note pursuant to article 26, paragraph 1, Presidential Decree no. 633/1972, without the payment of penalties and interests.
- On the other hand, if the San Marino office validates the transaction, the latter can be considered VAT-exempt with right to deduction according to articles 8 and 9, Presidential Decree 633/1972.
With reference to the invoices issued by San Marino taxable persons to Italian business customers (with transport of the goods from San Marino to Italy), the e-invoices will be transmitted by the San Marino tax office in electronic format to the SDI, which will make them available to the Italian business customer through a specific IT channel.
The obligation of the electronic memorisation and transmission of the considerations’ data
The electronic transmission of the considerations’ data is a new fulfilment introduced with the purpose to promote the companies’ digitalisation process and, at the same time, to contrast tax evasion and VAT frauds.
Taxpayers that carry out the activities provided by art. 22 of the Presidential Decree no. 633/1972 have the new obligation to memorise and transmit the considerations’ data, on a daily basis, to the Italian tax authorities.
The main benefits for the taxpayers are the exemption from the obligation to keep the considerations’ book, provided by article 24 of the Presidential Decree no. 633/1972, and the abrogation of some accounting fulfilments, such as the issuance and the storage of the fiscal receipts (i.e. 'scontrini' and 'ricevute fiscali').
The transactions are documented by the issuance of a document, the so-called 'documento commerciale'.
Specific exemptions have been temporarily provided to certain taxpayers with regards to the activity performed (e.g. banks, insurance companies, and certain kinds of taxpayers who carry out retail trade activities).
With the Law no. 178/2020 (Italian Budget Law for FY 2021), the new penalties regime was introduced related to the penalties that might be applied for the violations related to the electronic memorisation and the telematic transmission of the consideration’s data.
2021 new tax receipt lottery
In the context of the electronic transmission of the considerations described above, the new 'tax receipts lottery' has been introduced. The Budget Law 2021 has also amended the rules of the tax receipt lottery, establishing that it will be possible to participate in the lottery only and exclusively in the case of purchases paid with electronic payment instruments (credit cards, debit cards, etc.). Purchases made in cash will therefore be excluded from the lottery.
In order to participate in the lottery, the Italian consumer that purchases goods or services, outside the scope of business, from an Italian merchant who transmits the daily considerations electronically, should communicate its lottery code (the so-called 'Codice lotteria').
Such code can be requested directly by the final consumer on the Italian tax authorities’ website (the so-called 'Portale della lotteria'), which will be made available by the Italian tax authorities.
By joining the above-mentioned lottery, the taxpayer can win cash prizes.
The Act no. 32051/2021 issued by the Italian tax authorities and the Customs Agency set the rules for the tax receipt lottery. In particular, receipts submitted from 1 February 2021 are allowed to participate in the above-mentioned lottery.
Deadline for registration of output invoices for taxable persons who opted for the settlement of VAT on a quarterly basis starting from 1 January 2021
Taxable person can opt for settlement of VAT on a quarterly basis (in this case, 1% interest is due) if the turnover of the previous calendar year does not exceed:
- EUR 400,000 in case of provision of services only.
- EUR 700,000 in case of supply of goods.
In order to benefit from the above method, a certain election has to be carried out within a certain timeline in the annual VAT return.
For the above-mentioned taxable persons, the Budget Law 2021 has introduced a broader deadline for the registration of the output invoices, i.e. within the end of month following the quarter in which the transaction was carried out and with reference to the month of the tax point.
In order to contend with tax evasion on e-commerce and reduce the VAT gap, a specific compliance obligation has been introduced in Italy starting from year 2019 for taxable persons who facilitate, through the use of an electronic interface such as a virtual market, a platform, a portal, or similar means (i.e. marketplaces), distance sales of imported goods or distance sales of goods within the European Union.
By the end of the month following each quarter, the above taxable persons are required to transmit certain information regarding the supplies carried out by each supplier via the above marketplaces.
The above taxable persons are responsible for VAT due for distance sales supplies carried out via the marketplaces for which they have not transmitted or have incompletely transmitted specific data mentioned by the law, unless they can prove that VAT was paid by the supplier.
Specific regulation regarding the context of the communication as well as the technical ways of filling has been issued.
Such specific compliance obligations remained in force until the end of June 2021 as long as the new e-commerce VAT package rules, as implemented by Legislative Decree No. 83/2021, came into force on 1 July 2021.
Starting from that date, if a taxable person facilitates, through the use of an electronic interface such as a virtual market, a platform, a portal, or similar means,:
- distance sales of goods imported from third territories or third countries whose intrinsic value does not exceed EUR 150, and/or
- distance sales and local sales of goods carried out within the European Union by a taxable person not established in the European Union towards a person who is not a taxable person,
the taxable person who facilitates the supply shall be deemed to have received and supplied those goods oneself.
In this respect, such transactions should be split into two different supplies:
- A first supply between the supplier and the taxable person who facilitates the supply (non-moved supply).
- A second supply between the taxable person who facilitates the supply and the final customer (moved supply).
In order to declare and pay VAT on their supplies, the taxable persons who facilitate the supply are allowed to opt for OSS/IOSS special regimes (please see below).
One-stop shop (OSS) / Import one-stop shop (IOSS) regimes
By implementing the new e-commerce VAT package rules, Legislative Decree No. 83/2021 also transposes in Italy the new OSS and IOSS special regimes.
OSS and IOSS are the new optional European VAT clearance system, centralised and digital, that extends the scope of the mini one-stop shop (MOSS), currently covering electronic, telecommunications, and broadcasting services only.
The MOSS is an electronic system that allows taxpayers who provide TTE services in the European Union to declare and pay the VAT due in all the EU member states in a single member state.
As of 1 July 2021, the MOSS has therefore become an OSS and has been extended to all the following B2C transactions:
- Distance sales of goods imported from third territories or countries (with the exception of goods subject to excise duty) carried out by suppliers and taxable persons facilitating the supply through the use of an electronic interface (to be reported in the IOSS section).
- Intra-Community distance sales of goods carried out by suppliers and taxable persons facilitating the supply through an electronic interface (to be reported in the OSS section).
- Domestic sales of goods carried out by taxable persons facilitating the supply through an electronic interface (to be reported in the OSS section).
- Supplies of services carried out by taxable persons not established in the European Union or by taxable persons established within the European Union but not in the member state of consumption (to be reported in the OSS section).
The OSS scheme simplifies the VAT compliance obligations applicable for taxable persons that sell goods and provide services to final consumers in the European Union, enabling them to:
- register electronically for VAT purposes in a single member state for all the eligible supplies of goods and provisions of services carried out towards final consumers in the other 26 member states
- declare VAT by means of a single electronic VAT declaration and make a single payment of the VAT due on all the eligible supplies of goods and services carried out, and
- collaborate with the tax authorities of the member state in which they are registered for the OSS and in a single language, even if their supplies take place in other EU countries.
In this respect, it is worth reminding that the new legislative provisions abolish the reference thresholds previously in force for the payment of VAT in the country of residence in the context of intra-Community distance sales. With the new regulations, a single threshold of EUR 10,000 is recognised; once this is exceeded, the VAT is applied in the country where the service or sale is to be made.
Moreover, the new provisions also abolish the VAT exemption for goods of negligible value imported into the European Union. Since 1 July, therefore, VAT is due on all the imported goods regardless of their value.
The creation of the IOSS regime allows suppliers who sell goods delivered or transported from a third country or territory to final customers in the European Union to collect VAT from the purchaser on distance sales of low-value imported goods and to declare and pay this tax through the IOSS.
If IOSS is used, the import of low-value goods (with an intrinsic value not exceeding EUR 150) into the European Union is exempt from VAT.
Please note that, since 1 April 2021, on the Italian tax authorities’ website it is possible to register in order to exercise the option for the application of OSS and IOSS special regimes.
The use of the special regimes is optional; however, if a taxpayer exercises the option, it should apply them for all the operations that fall within them.
Timeline in order to deduct input VAT
A reduction of the time frame for the exercise of the right to deduct VAT has been introduced since 2017.
The right to deduct input VAT may be exercised at the latest with the VAT return related to the year in which the right arises and under the conditions existing at the time of such a right has arisen.
The Italian tax authorities have provided important guidance regarding the above Circular Letter no. 1/E/2018. Inter alia, the time from which the deadline for VAT deduction begins to run is set when the following conditions jointly happen:
- the tax point occurred, and
- a valid invoice is received by the taxpayer.
In practice, a taxpayer that purchased and paid for a service in December 2017 and receives the invoice (dated December 2017) in January 2018 can exercise the right of deduction only from the VAT settlement related to January 2018 and by 30 April 2019 (i.e. deadline for submission of the relevant VAT return). However, VAT deduction must be exercised under the conditions existing at the time of the tax point (i.e. 2017).
Conversely, in case the invoice is received in December 2017, it will be possible to register it by 30 April 2018, but it will be necessary to use a special sectional of the VAT purchase ledger related to 2017; as such, the purchase will be included in the annual VAT return of the same fiscal year.
Previously, the right to deduct could be exercised, at the latest, with the VAT return related to the second year following the one in which the right to deduct had arisen.
With the above-mentioned Circular Letter no. 1/E/2018, the Italian tax authorities also clarified that the credit notes as per article 26, paragraph 2, Presidential Decree no. 633/1972 (e.g. following to customer’s insolvency proceedings) have to be issued, and the higher VAT previously paid at the time can be deducted, at the most late, within the deadline for the submission of the annual VAT return re the year in which the right to issue the credit note has arisen. In this respect, the Ruling issued by the Italian tax authorities no. 119/2021 clarified that in the case the right to issue the credit note has arisen during the year X and the related credit note has been issued in the following year (i.e. year X+1) within the deadline for the submission of the annual VAT return of the year X, the above-mentioned credit note has to be included in the VAT settlement of the month of issuance or, at the latest, in the annual VAT return of the same year (i.e. X+1).
Starting from 23 October 2018, the right to deduct input VAT can be anticipated at the deadline of the VAT settlement in relation to the purchase invoices received and registered within the 15th of the month following the one in which the transaction is carried out.
By way of example, input VAT deduction on a purchase invoice whose tax point occurs on 31 January 2019 can be exercised with the January VAT settlement provided that the invoice is received and registered by 15 February 2019.
This possibility is not provided (as already introduced from 2017) for invoices received related to transactions carried out in the previous year. In this case, VAT must be deducted in the year in which the invoice is received.
Issuance of credits notes in the case of insolvency proceedings
Article 18, Law Decree no. 73/2021 converted into Law no. 106 of July 23, 2021 (so-called 'Decreto Sostegni bis') has amended article 26, Presidential Decree no. 633/1972 regarding the possibility to issue credit notes and therefore recover VAT on outstanding receivables towards customers subject to insolvency proceedings.
In particular, the right to recover VAT beyond the annual year limit is also applicable in the event of non-payment of the consideration, in whole or in part, by the customer, starting from the date on which the latter has been subjected to an insolvency procedure.
The debtor is considered subjected to insolvency proceedings from the date of the decision declaring the bankruptcy (or the act of compulsory administrative liquidation or the decree of admission to the procedure of arrangement with creditors or the decree that provides for the extraordinary administration procedure of large companies in crisis).
If the consideration is paid in whole or in part, the repayment of the recovered VAT regarding the credit note is due by the supplier.
The Italian tax authorities, through the Circular letter no. 20/E/2021, clarify the following:
- With reference to the issue of the creditor’s prior introduction to the debtor’s liabilities as a prerequisite for the recovery of the VAT, the issuance of the credit note (from the date the insolvency procedure starts) is not precluded to the creditor who decided to not join to the procedure. Therefore, the previous tax authority’s practice that subordinated the issuance of the credit note to the 'necessary participation of the creditor to the procedure' has been replaced.
- With reference to the deadline within which the creditor can issue the credit note and exercise, consequently, the right of VAT recovery, the Italian tax authorities provide with the following example, confirming the content of the above-mentioned Ruling no. 119/2021:
- In the case of sentence declaring the bankruptcy of the debtor in the course of 2022, the creditor will have the right to issue the credit note in the same year and recover VAT, at the latest, with the annual VAT return to be submitted within 30 April 2023 (relating to the 2022);
- however, it is also possible for the creditor to issue the credit note within the first four months of 2023 (deadline for submission of VAT return relating 2022) and, in such a case, exercise the right to the VAT recovery in the periodical settlement of issuance of the credit note or in the annual VAT return to be submitted within 30 April 2024 (relating to 2023).
The new provisions apply in relation to insolvency proceedings starting from 26 May 2021, as confirmed again by the above-mentioned Circular letter n. 20/E/2021.
European VAT group
From 1 January 2019, the European VAT group rules are applicable, provided the option for was elected by 15 November 2018 (for following years, the deadline is September 30 for VAT groups effective from the following year; in the case the option is elected from 1 October to 31 December, the VAT group is effective from the second following year).
In the main, in the case of election of the VAT group:
- transactions between taxable persons participating in the VAT group are considered as not relevant for VAT purposes (apart from certain exemptions), and
- the VAT group operates as a single VATable person towards those not participating in the group itself.
There are certain conditions to be met in order to be entitled for the election.
Starting from 23 October 2018, European VAT group rules also apply to VATable persons established in Italy who participate in a Cooperative Banking Group (Gruppo Bancario Cooperativo). In this case, the group has effect from 1 January 2019 if the option was elected by 31 December 2018 or from 1 July 2019 if the option is elected by 30 April 2019.
The current VAT group settlement regime, which consists of settlement of VAT debits and credits among taxable persons meeting certain requirements in terms of chain of controls, will remain in place.
Via a legislative provision published in 2020, under specific conditions, VAT exemption has been confirmed applicable also for the past and to services rendered by consortia, consortium companies, and cooperative companies with consortium functions (hereinafter 'consortium') towards a consortium member who is also a member of a VAT group, where the consortium is not part of it.
The above-mentioned law also provides for a specific way of calculation of one of the conditions (pro rata of deduction) for the VAT exemption in the case of a VAT group.
In addition to the quarterly cross-border communication mentioned above (abolished starting from 1 July 2022; please see 'Cross-border communication' above for details), taxable persons have to submit to the Italian tax authorities, on a quarterly basis, the communications of the periodic VAT balances.
The communications of periodic VAT balances require one to submit electronically to the Italian tax authorities, on a quarterly basis, the summary of VAT balances accounting data (also in case the entity results in a credit position). The deadlines for each quarter are 31 May, 30 September, 30 November, and the last day of February of the following year (in case the deadline is Saturday/Sunday/bank holiday, it is postponed to the first working day that follows).
The communication of periodic VAT balances of the fourth quarter where the relevant data are, alternatively, included in the annual VAT return. In this case, the annual VAT return must be submitted by the end of February of the following year (e.g. the communication of the fourth quarter of 2019 can be avoided provided the relevant data are included in the 2019 VAT return to be submitted by the end of February 2020; the standard deadline of the annual VAT return would be April 2020).
Service supply rules
Generic services supplied by a taxable person to another taxable person (business-to-business or B2B) are in the scope of the Italian VAT if the services are supplied to Italian taxable persons or to PEs of an Italian non-resident entity.
The specific rules are as follows:
- For services related to immovable property, reference must be made to the place in which the immovable property is located.
- For the transportation of passengers, the place in which the transportation takes place must be identified, including the proportion of the distance covered.
- For catering and restaurant services, the place in which the activity will be physically carried out must be identified.
- For short-term hiring, leasing, and similar means of obtaining transport services, the place in which the vehicle is used must be identified (use and enjoyment rule has been implemented on these services).
The general rule for services supplied by a taxable person to a non-taxable person (B2C) identifies the place of taxation with the country of residence of the supplier.
Several rules, in addition to the B2B general rules, exist for the following:
- Brokerage services.
- Goods transport services.
- Services related to movable goods and ancillary activities related to transports.
- Long-term hiring/leasing of means of transport services.
- Electronic services supplied by extra-European Union suppliers.
- Telecommunications and television/radio broadcast services.
In addition, special rules are provided for certain services rendered to final customers established outside the European Union.
In relation to the VAT treatment of cultural, artistic, sporting, scientific, educational, recreational, and similar services, VAT is due in the country where the activities were physically carried out for B2C activities and VAT is due in the country of the recipient for B2B activities other than admission. For B2B services in respect of admission, the place of supply is where the events take place.
Time of supply for certain services
Time of supply is the time of completion in case of:
- supply of services falling under the general rule (i.e. generic supply of services) rendered by EU and non-EU taxable persons to taxable persons established in Italy, and
- supply of services falling under the general rule rendered by taxable persons established in Italy to EU and non-EU taxable persons.
In case of periodic or continuous supply of services, the time of supply is the date of maturity of the consideration.
Moreover, the above supplies of services, if performed/received by taxable persons established in Italy continuously over a period longer than one year and if no payments are carried out, even partially, in the same period, shall be considered carried out at the end of each calendar year up to completion of the same supplies.
According to the reverse-charge mechanism, the obligations related to supply of goods and provision of services carried out in Italy by non-resident taxable persons towards taxable persons established in Italy are fulfilled by the latter. The recipient of goods and/or services has to integrate the invoice received by the EU supplier or has to issue a self-invoice in case of a non-EU supplier and record it in the VAT sales register and VAT purchase register within a defined timeline.
Reverse-charge mechanism also applies to certain domestic supplies between Italian taxable persons (e.g. cleaning, demolition, equipment installation, and completion services related to the buildings). Please note that for certain supply of goods (e.g. supplies of gas and electricity to taxable dealer; supplies of gas and electricity certificates; supplies of mobile telephones), the reverse-charge mechanism is applicable on a temporary basis and on the optional decision of Italy as a EU member state, according to article 199-bis, paragraph 1, EU Directive no. 112/2006 (i.e. so-called 'VAT Directive'). In this respect, please note that the EU Directive no. 2022/890 has just postponed the deadline for the EU member states to adopt the above-mentioned 'optional reverse-charge mechanism' from 30 June 2022 to 31 December 2026. In this respect, Italy has just transposed the aforementioned law provision (art. 22, Law Decree no. 73 dated 21 June 2022).
The application of the reverse-charge mechanism also applies to the provision of services (with certain exceptions) carried out through procurement contracts, subcontracting contracts, contracts of reliance to consortium members, or other contractual relationships however named, which are carried out with the prevalent use of manpower at the client's premises and with the use of capital goods owned by the client or attributable to the latter in any form (the effectiveness of the above-mentioned law provision is subject to the issuance, by the Council of the European Union, of a specific authorisation).
VAT credit offset with other taxes
To offset a VAT credit against other taxes for an amount higher than EUR 5,000, it is necessary to wait until the 16th day of the month following the filing of the yearly VAT return on which the credit is shown.
According to art. 1, paragraph 72, Budget Law 2022 (Law no. 234/2021), the threshold to offset tax credits (including VAT) with other taxes or social contributions, via the F24 form, or through simplified tax refund procedure, has been increased up to EUR 2 million.
It should be noted that the above-mentioned limit of EUR 2 million per year was already established, on a temporary basis, for 2021 (art. 22, Law Decree no. 73/2021).
Furthermore, in order to avoid abuse, taxpayers intending to offset a VAT credit for an amount higher than EUR 5,000 are required to ask their tax advisors or auditors to affix their signature to the VAT return, which is known as the ‘conformity mark’ (i.e. visto di conformità).
Specific deeds and contracts must be filed with the local registration tax office either upon signature or if specific circumstances occur, and the relevant tax must be paid.
Depending on the nature of the contract and on the assets that are the object of the contract, as well as on the form of the contract, registration tax is levied as a fixed amount or as a percentage of the value of the goods and/or rights that are the object of the contract. As a general rule, no proportional registration tax is due in the case of transactions subject to VAT.
VAT and registration tax on lease of immovable properties
Leases of residential and commercial buildings, or portions thereof, generally are exempt from VAT with no right to deduction and subject to the registration tax at a 2% or 1% rate.
Different VAT rates, VAT treatment, and registration tax treatment apply depending on the type of buildings the lease refers to (e.g. residential, commercial buildings) and the supplier (e.g. individual, constructions companies, taxable persons other than construction companies).
Specific rules apply in case of financial leases of residential and commercial buildings from a registration tax perspective.
At the moment of the importation of goods into the EU territory, customs duties are applied. The amount of customs duties to pay depends on the value and nature of the goods imported. In particular, for each kind of good, the Common Customs Tariff provides a tax rate to be applied to the value or number of the goods imported.
The correct classification of the goods is one of the most important issues to consider when an economic operator introduces goods in Italy. A wrong classification can give rise to the application of higher customs duties, and the operator could face a tax burden not due, or to the application of lower customs duties, and this situation could lead to a tax assessment by the Italian Customs Authority.
The value of the goods is represented by the transaction value, hence, the price actually paid or payable for the goods when sold for exportation to the customs territory of the EU, provided that:
- there are no restrictions as to the disposal or use of the goods by the buyer
- the sale or price is not subject to some condition or consideration for which a value cannot be determined with respect to the goods being valued
- part of the profits of any subsequent resale, disposal, or use of the goods by the buyer will not be accrued, directly or indirectly, to the seller, and
- the buyer and seller are not related, or, where the buyer and seller are related, that the transaction value is acceptable for customs purposes.
In determining whether the transaction value is acceptable, the fact that the buyer and the seller are related is not, in itself, sufficient for considering the transaction value as not acceptable. Where necessary, the circumstances surrounding the sale are examined, and the transaction value is accepted if the relationship did not influence the price.
The price actually paid or payable is the total transaction amount paid for the imported goods and includes all payments made as a condition of sale of the imported goods by the buyer to the seller or by the buyer to a third party to satisfy an obligation of the seller.
In determining the customs value, the following items shall be added to the price, to the extent that they are incurred by the buyer and are not included in the price (list not exhaustive):
- Commissions and brokerage.
- Royalties and licence fees related to the goods under assessment.
- The cost of transport and insurance of the imported goods.
At the same time, provided that they are shown separately from the price actually paid or payable, the following items shall not be included in the customs value (list not exhaustive):
- Charges for the transport of goods after their arrival at the place of introduction into the customs territory of the European Union.
- Charges for construction, erection, assembly, maintenance, or technical assistance, undertaken after importation of imported goods such as industrial plant, machinery, or equipment.
- Buying commissions.
A reduced or zero rate of duty at importation can be applied when the goods imported have a preferential origin. The preferential origin depends on the existence of commercial agreements between the European Union and other non-EU states or by facilities provided by the European Union to non-EU states unilaterally.
The application of a reduced or zero rate of duty can even depend on the existence of preferential tariff treatment or on the existence of a particular exemption provided by law for some kind of goods.
Any person may appoint a representative in one's dealings with the Customs Authority to perform the activities and formalities laid down by customs rules. Such representation may be direct, in which case the representative shall act in the name and on behalf of another person, or indirect, in which case the representatives shall act in one's own name but on behalf of another person.
For direct representation, a forwarding agent, holder of a particular licence, must be appointed.
The representative must be established within the European Union.
The following goods are subject to excise duties:
- Energetic products (e.g. petrol, gas oil, natural gas, coal).
- Alcohol and alcoholic drinks (e.g. wine, beer, ethylic alcohol).
- Processed tobaccos (e.g. cigars, cigarettes, tobacco).
- Electric power.
The subjection of a product to excise duties has to be verified on the basis of its customs combined nomenclature code.
The tax liability, depending on the products, arises:
- at the moment of importation or production (and the excise duties must be paid at the moment in which they are released for consumption in Italy)
- when the excisable goods are used for heating or as fuel, and
- when the excisable goods are released for consumption or used for own use.
As a general rule (with exception of natural gas and coal, coke, and lignite), with reference to excise goods released for consumption during a month, the payment of the relative excise duties has to be made by the 16th day of the following month.
With reference to excise goods imported, customs rules are applied as far as the procedure and terms of payment are concerned.
The production, processing, and holding of 'excise goods', except from natural gas, coal, coke, lignite, and electric power, are subject to a suspensive regime performed through a fiscal warehouse.
In order to manage a fiscal warehouse, it is necessary to acquire a licence issued by the Italian Customs Authority, and there are specific obligations for the owner of a fiscal warehouse (e.g. provide for a particular guarantee, keep a particular accounting system for the goods stored, be subject to controls performed by Italian Customs Authority, where requested).
The Italian legislation provides for many exemptions with regards to the use of 'excise goods'.
Furthermore, under certain circumstances, a tax refund is granted to the operator who released for consumption if, afterwards, the products are not consumed in Italy.
Stamp duty taxes
Stamp duty taxes (Imposta di Bollo) apply on a certain list of deeds or documents provided for by the relevant law provision (e.g. checks, bills of exchange, statements of account, certificates, books of account, deeds of transfer of quotas, and, in some specific cases identified by the Law, invoices).
According to the kind of deed, stamp duty tax is due upon the deeds’ origin or in case of use (e.g. if the deed is filed to the Italian Registration Office). Moreover, it can be a fixed amount or as an amount proportional to the value of the deed or document.
Stamp duty tax can be paid:
- ordinarily, through a physical stamp attached on the document, or
- virtually, through electronic means (in this case, a specific authorisation from the Italian tax authorities and a specific process procedure are needed).
Even considered the mandatory electronic invoicing obligation for the supplies of goods or services carried out between persons that are resident or established in Italy, there are specific ways of payments of stamp duty tax.
Stamp duty tax is usually alternative to VAT; however, in case of considerations partially subject to VAT and partially not subject to VAT, the invoice is subject to stamp duty tax if the total amount of the considerations not subject to VAT exceeds EUR 77.47. Moreover, some transactions are stamp duty tax exempted (e.g. inter-Community supply of goods). For transactions that are exempted from VAT (with restriction on VAT credit) and for transactions out of scope of VAT, exceeding EUR 77.47, an amount of EUR 2 is due as stamp duty tax for each issued invoice.
For electronic invoices sent to SDI, the stamp duty must be paid quarterly on the basis of the calculations provided by the Italian tax authorities.
The Italian tax authorities will make available, within the reserved area Fatture e Corrispettivi of the Tax Box (Cassetto Fiscale), a payment service and an F24 draft with the indication of the stamp duty to be paid (determined on the basis of the amount indicated in the field 126.96.36.199 'DatiBollo' of the .XML invoice).
Article 1, paragraph 1108, Budget Law 2021, provides that for the payment of stamp duty tax on e-invoices and other documents submitted through the SDI, the taxpayer who provides the goods or services is jointly and severally liable, even where the invoice is issued by a third party.
The Italian tax authorities, through Act no. 34958/2021, introduced important changes related to the settlement of stamp duty on e-invoices. In particular, the new provisions concern:
- the procedures, addressed to the Italian Tax Authorities, to detect e-invoices subject to stamp duty tax, and
- the procedures, addressed to the taxpayer, for the consultation and integration of the data relating to the stamp duty tax and for its payment.
Unified municipal tax (Imposta Unica Comunale or IUC)
The IUC is composed of the following different taxes:
- Imposta Municipale Unica (IMU): Real estate tax levied on the ownership of immovable properties (buildings, rural land, farmlands), except for immovable properties owned as primary private properties. The standard tax rate is 0.76%. Depending on the municipality and status of the taxpayer, the tax rate can be increased or decreased. The taxable base is generally determined on the basis of the so called ‘cadastral value’ (i.e. capitalisation of the deemed standard income that is expected to be derived from the real estate).
- Tributo per i Servizi Indivisibili (TASI): A service tax due by real estate owners and by tenants, except for immovable properties aimed as private properties (different from immovable properties falling under the cadastral category A/1, A/8, and A/9). The amount due by the tenant can range according to the Regulation stated by the municipality.
- Tassa sui rifiuti (TARI): A waste tax levied on the owner or the user of immovable properties.
The 2020 Budget Law reviewed the law provision regarding the taxes levied on the ownership of immovable properties. In particular, it has been provided that, starting from the year 2020, the tax on indivisible services (i.e. the above-mentioned 'Tributo per i Servizi Indivisibili [TASI]') is abolished and there is only one form of real estate levy, the discipline of which, fundamentally, follows the existing one for the previous 'Imposta Municipale Unica (IMU)'. In particular, generally speaking, the following has been provided for the new 'Imposta Municipale Unica (IMU)':
- The tax rate is set at 0.86%, with the possibility for municipalities to increase it to 1.06% or decrease it until zero.
- The deadline for the submission of the tax return is 30 June of the year following the one in which the ownership of the immovable property has begun or in which there have been significant changes in the determination of the tax.
Financial Transaction Tax (FTT)
Italian FTT applies to (i) cash equities, (ii) derivatives, and (iii) high-frequency trading transactions.
Cash equities FTT applies to the purchase of shares and other equity instruments issued by Italian companies, as well as securities (wherever issued) tracking those Italian shares (e.g. ADRs). The taxable base is the net daily balance of transactions on the same financial instruments by the same person on the same settlement date. The rate is 0.2% on OTC trades or 0.1% on trades executed in a regulated market (or multilateral trading facility).
Derivatives FTT applies to any derivative contract or securitised derivative, whose underlying value is directly or indirectly tied to Italian shares. The taxable base is the notional amount of the derivative (no netting applies), and it is subject to a special tax scale, on both the purchase and the sale legs; the amount is reduced to 1/5 for transactions executed on regulated markets and multilateral trading facilities.
High-frequency trading FTT applies to transactions on shares (wherever issued) and share-based derivatives (wherever the underlying share is issued) in the Italian financial markets; trades amended or cancelled within half a second are subject to a 0.02% rate, to the extent they exceed 60% of overall trades.
Digital service tax (DST)
As of FY 2020, corporations will apply a tax at the rate of 3% on the value of specific digital services collected, net of VAT and other indirect taxes.
The web tax is addressed to taxpayers who individually or at the group level realise during a taxable year (i.e. calendar year):
- a total amount of worldwide revenues exceeding EUR 750 million, and
- a total amount of revenues realised in the Italian territory exceeding EUR 5.5 million.
Taxpayers must pay the tax by 16 May of the calendar year following the year in which the taxable revenues were obtained.
Taxpayers also must submit an annual tax declaration regarding the provided taxable services by 30 June of the following year. For companies that are part of the same group, a single entity must be identified to comply with the above-described provisions.
The entry in force is 1 January 2020. The Italian DST shall be repealed when internationally agreed-upon provisions on the digital economy’s taxation become applicable.
The DST is aimed at the revenues collected from the provision of the following services:
- Channeling of advertisement on a digital interface targeted to the users of that digital interface.
- Offer of a multi-sided digital interface that allows users interaction and for the purposes of facilitating the direct provision of goods and services.
- The transmission of data collected about users and generated from users' activities on digital interfaces.
The collected revenues are taxable when the user uses the device to access the above digital services in the Italian territory. In order to identify the location of the user, the Italian tax authority has provided specific linking rules between the user and the Italian territory (i.e. IP address or by other means of geo-localisation).
Social security contributions
The Italian employer, in order to pay social securitycontributions for employees, must register with the Italian Social Security Administration (Instituto Nazionale Previdenza Sociale or INPS).
The total social security rate is around 40% of the employee's gross compensation (the rate depends on the work-activity performed by the company, the number of employees of the company, and the employee's position), and is shared as follows:
- Employer's charge is around 30%.
- Employee's charge is around 10%.