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ECONOMY

Italy’s ‘baby bonuses’: What payments are available and how do you claim?

As Italy's birth rate continues to plummet amid economic turmoil, the government has extended and increased benefit schemes in the hope of encouraging a baby boom.

Italy's 'baby bonuses': What payments are available and how do you claim?
Will Italy’s baby bonuses encourage you to start a family? Photo: AFP

Italy’s precarious economy and the added impact of the pandemic saw the birth rate continue to drop last year, prompting concerns for the nation’s financial future.

In 2019, Italy recorded its lowest birthrate for more than 150 years, as births fell to 435,000 according to the national statistics body, Istat. This trend continued in 2020, with a 1.57% decline compared to the previous year.

READ ALSO:  Italy's low birth rate 'plunging further due to coronavirus crisis'

With fewer and fewer births, the Italian population is ageing fast. To answer the question of how the country can halt a shrinking working population of the future, the government is increasingly looking at the financial support avalable for would-be parents.

The Budget Law 2021 (Legge di Bilancio 2021) introduced a package of measures across health, employment and family life totalling around 40 billion euros.

A section of this law provides bonuses to support families with children. There are two notable benefits available for new parents: the ‘Bonus Mamma Domani’ (premio alla nascita) and the ‘Bonus Bebé’ (assegno di natalità), which have been extended through 2021.

The government has also introduced a raft of measures designed to support families further, such as lengthening paternity leave. Italy has long ranked at the bottom of the EU paternity leave table and was set most recently at seven days. In a bid to support families, this has now been boosted to ten – meeting the recommended EU minimum.

Help for caregivers, assistance for mothers getting back to work after having children and a single child allowance are also included in the package.

Here, we navigate you through the red tape and break down the standout bonuses you could be eligible to claim.

The Mamma Domani Bonus 

This is a one-off cash payment of €800 for expectant mothers and can be claimed from the seventh month of pregnancy.

You can apply through INPS, the social security and welfare system, for the birth of your child or if you are adopting or fostering a child. This payment was first introduced in 2017 and has been included in this year’s Budget again.

The funds can be paid via various means, including directly to your bank account. INPS has also scrapped the previous form and you can now apply directly online.

Photo: AFP

New mother Shirin Georgiani from the UK has lived in Italy for nearly three years and had her baby in November 2020.

She advised others not to wait until the seventh month of pregnancy to start the process of applying for the Mamma Domani bonus, as it can take time to jump through the bureaucratic hoops. She began the process at around three months into her pregnancy.

For Shirin, she had to wait months for her PIN number, which allows you to start the claim. Since October of last year, though, INPS has been phasing out the use of PINs and will not issue new ones.

Instead, you now need a SPID, a Carta di Identità Elettronica (CIE) or a Carta Nazionale dei Servizi (CNS).

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Once they completed the form, however, Shirin and her partner were pleasantly surprised that the one-off payment arrived in their bank account in a matter of days.

Who is this allowance for?

Italian citizens, EU and non-EU citizens can claim, as long as you are a resident in Italy.

To prove you are eligible, that is, to show you are pregnant, you must provide a certificate from your doctor of either the State or Local Health Authority (SSN, Servizio Sanitario Nazionale or ASL, Azienda Sanitaria Locale).

Shirin told us that her doctor entered this information into INPS directly and in fact, you have to be with the doctor in person to get this certificate; it can’t be done remotely.

READ ALSO: Ten things you need to know about giving birth in Italy

If you already had your child, you can still claim this benefit by self-certifying with the child’s date of birth and their personal details, including their tax code (codice fiscale).

If you went down the fostering and adoption route, you would need to speak to the governing authorities for proof.

This is a one-off payment and isn’t dependent on your income status.

The Bonus Bebé

The Bonus Bebé is a little more complex. But yes, you can access both payments.

They are both available concurrently and form part of the Family Act package, introduced last year.

New parents can claim this monthly stipend until the child reaches one year old.

Although it was due to be abolished and merged into a universal child benefit, the government has in fact rolled this subsidy over into 2021. It’s available for each child born or adopted from 1st January 2021 to 31st December 2021.

You could receive a monthly allowance of between €80 and €160 per month, depending on your economic circumstances.

The wording is crucial here, as it doesn’t depend solely on your income, but your assets too.

What you receive depends on your ISEE (Indicatore della Situazione Economica Equivalente, i.e. Equivalent Financial Position Indicator). Essentially, you are means-tested to find out how much allowance you are entitled to.

It’s calculated by combining your income and 20 percent of your assets, such as your house and your car, for instance. From there, your ISEE is derived from the ratio between this value and the number of household members.

There are three bands, defined as follows:

  • 1,920 euros per year (160 euros per month) for families with an ISEE of up to 7,000 euros.

  • 1,440 euros per year (120 euros per month) for families with an ISEE between 7,000 and 40,000 euros.

  • 960 euros per year (80 euros per month) for families with an ISEE of over 40,000 euros.

For subsequent children, the bonus increases by 20 percent as follows:

  • 304 euros per year (192 euros per month) per year per child subsequent to the first, for families with an ISEE of up to 7,000 euros.

  • 728 euros per year (144 euros per month) per year per child for families with an ISEE between 7,000 and 40,000 euros.

  • 152 euros per year (96 euros per month) per year per child for families with an ISEE of over 40,000 euros.

To find out what your ISEE is, you need to fill out a declaration form of your income and assets, called the DSU (Dichiarazione Sostitutiva Unica).

Who is eligible to claim this?

The application must be submitted by a parent who has residency in Italy and has either Italian citizenship, citizenship of a European Union State or an EU residence permit for long-term residents. You also qualify if you have a residence card as a family member of an Italian or EU citizen.

Therefore, if you or your partner is Italian or comes from the EU, you’re covered.

READ ALSO: What's the difference between Italian residency and citizenship?

If you’re both not from Italy or the EU, you need a long-term residence permit (carta di soggiorno permanente), which can be acquired after living legally in Italy for five years.

For British nationals post-Brexit, it's important to note that this is distinct from the new biometric residence card.

If you tick the boxes for eligibility and once you’ve submitted a successful claim, you can expect payment to be made from the following month, according to INPS. There’s a 90-day window from the birth or adoption of your child to send your application.

How difficult is it to claim?

As a mum to a three-month-old baby, Shirin found applying for this bonus much trickier than the Mamma Domani benefit.

“Becoming a mother is demanding and the first three months are a challenge. Trying to juggle a newborn with meeting the application deadline is really tough,” she said.

She added that the language element is also considerable. The technical jargon in Italian is testing and the online forms aren’t user-friendly.

Still waiting for a reply to her claim, Shirin admitted she felt “lost” through this process and advised to get help if it becomes a struggle.

READ ALSO: Italy's building bonus: Can you really claim back the cost of renovating property?

One source of help is to go to a Patronato, an employment and citizen service. If your spoken Italian skills are up to scratch, they can hold your hand and fill out the forms with you. If you have an accountant (commercialista), they may also be able to help

Like the Mamma Domani Bonus, there are several ways to receive the allowance, including directly to your bank account and you can also apply online. Alternatively, you can call the Contact Centre on 803 164, free of charge from landlines, or on 06 164 164 via mobile.

What if you already have children in Italy?

You can claim the single child allowance (Assegno unico figli), which comes into force from 1st July 2021. It can be claimed in conjunction with the other benefits mentioned.

It will be available from the seventh month of pregnancy until the child turns 21 years old – or 25 if they go to university and you are a low-income family.

Between 200 and 250 euros are granted monthly, which increases by 20 percent for successive children.

Those who can apply include Italian parents, EU parents and non-EU parents with long-term residence or those with work or research permits, who have been resident in Italy for at least two years, even if not continuously.

The latest legislation encompasses further bonuses, such as the nursery bonus (bonus asilo nido) and allowances for families with at least three children. Gradually, these will all be phased out and rolled into one universal allowance.

See more of The Local's guides to dealing with Italian bureaucracy here.

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For members

MONEY

From renovations to cinema tickets: The Italian tax ‘bonuses’ you could claim in 2023

Italy's latest budget bill has confirmed which of the tax breaks or 'bonuses' will continue into 2023. From property purchases and renovations to cinema tickets, here's what you could save money on in Italy this year.

From renovations to cinema tickets: The Italian tax 'bonuses' you could claim in 2023

Each year, the Italian government provides a range of tax deductions to encourage residents to engage in economy-stimulating, energy-saving, or otherwise worthwhile projects.

READ ALSO: Flat tax, superbonus and wild boar: What’s in Italy’s 2023 budget?

While the paperwork involved can be a headache, it’s well worth knowing what discounts are available – in some cases they can end up saving you tens of thousands of euros.

Here are the key reductions on offer in 2023.

Superbonus

Italy’s popular ‘superbonus 110’, which offers homeowners the chance to claim a tax deduction of up to 110 percent of the cost of renovation work, has been extended into 2023 under the budget bill – albeit in a reduced form.

READ ALSO: Who can claim Italy’s building superbonus in 2023?

From January the maximum available rebate will drop from 110 to 90 percent, and the scheme will exclude many of those who were previously eligible to claim.

You can read more about the precise changes planned for the bonus HERE.

Furniture and appliances bonus

The 50 percent discount on the purchase of new furniture and energy-efficient appliances for properties which have been renovated will remain available in 2023. 

However, the discount will now only be applicable to expenses of 8,000 euros or less (down from the 10,000 euro limit for 2022).

Find more information on the Agenzia delle Entrate (Italian tax office) website here (in Italian).

You might be able to claim a discount on your washing machine in Italy this year.

You might be able to claim a discount on your washing machine in Italy this year. Photo by Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images via AFP

Earthquake bonus

The sisma bonus provides a reduction in costs related to reinforcing homes in parts of Italy at medium to high seismic risk (categories 1, 2 or 3). 

The incentive allows property owners to claim between 50 and 80 percent of up to 96,000 euros on improvements that will make buildings more earthquake-safe, depending on the extent to which the changes reduce seismic risk.

The extended deadline for completing the renovations and applying for the tax deduction is December 31st, 2024; after this point, the benefit will return to its original value of 36 percent of up to 48,000 euros.

READ ALSO: Six things you need to know about claiming Italy’s ‘Sismabonus’

For more details, see the Agenzia delle Entrate’s Sismabonus website here (in Italian) or get in touch with the Agenzia delle Entrate directly. Find contact information here

Ecobonus

If you carry out work to make your home more energy efficient and eco-friendly, for example by replacing your boiler with a low-carbon alternative, improving insulation, installing solar panels, adding blackout blinds or shutters, or even adding charging points for electric cars, you can claim a significant portion of the expenses back. 

Savings of 50 percent or 65 percent can be claimed, depending on the type of work done; in common areas of condominium buildings, that figure rises as high as 75 percent. 

The current deadline for taking advantage of the bonus is December 31st, 2024; after this date, like the sisma bonus, the benefit will reportedly shrink to 36 percent of up to 48,000 euros per real estate unit.

Italy residents who install solar panels on their homes could claim a large tax reduction.

Italy residents who install solar panels on their homes could claim a large tax reduction. Photo by Bill Mead on Unsplash

First home bonus

People buying their first residential property in Italy are eligible for reductions on registration, mortgage and land registry tax, as well as a lower rate of VAT if the purchase is subject to sales tax.

They can also claim credit against personal income tax on estate agent fees and mortgage interest.

If you’re a first-time homebuyer under the age of 36, a couple with one person under the age of 35, or a single-parent family with minor children, you’re eligible for even more savings – provided your household’s ISEE doesn’t exceed 40,000 euros a year.

READ ALSO: What’s an ISEE and when will you need one in Italy?

Certain taxes are wiped out altogether, notary fees are halved, and the state will even guarantee loans of up 250,000 euros. This subsidy, which had been due to expire in 2022, was recently extended until December 31st, 2023.

For more details, see the Agenzia delle Entrate’s website here (in Italian).

‘Green house’ bonus

Back for 2023 (having briefly been trialled in 2016-2018) is the bonus case green, which provides financial incentives to people buying more energy-efficient homes.

Buyers of houses with energy class A or B ratings can benefit from a 50 percent VAT reduction on their purchase until December 31, 2022; however they must buy directly from the construction company or a real estate fund.

Renovation bonus

The bonus ristrutturazione allows you to apply for a 50 percent tax reduction on renovating your property, on expenses up to 96,000 euros, until the end of 2024.

Work might include repairing structural damage, having the wiring replaced, adding a garage, making the property more wheelchair-accessible, installing security systems, removing asbestos or adding safety features such as gas detectors. 

What you can’t claim for is ordinary upkeep and maintenance expenses; to be eligible for a subsidy, the work must involve a significant change or addition to your property.

You can claim significant discounts for making home improvements in Italy.

You can claim significant discounts for making home improvements in Italy. Photo by Stefan Lehner on Unsplash

Garden bonus

If you’re considering adding or renovating green space, you can apply for a 36 percent tax deduction on landscaping, installing irrigation systems, building a well, creating a roof garden or other significant work on your property’s outdoor areas until the end of 2024.

The bonus verde can be claimed on expenses of up to 5,000 euros per property and can be claimed on more than one home in your name. Routine maintenance and upkeep of your garden does not qualify. 

For more details, see the Agenzia delle Entrate’s bonus verde website here (in Italian).

Drinking water bonus

To incentivise people in Italy to ditch plastic bottles in favour of more environmentally friendly alternatives, the government has extended the bonus acqua potabile until the end of 2023.

A 50 percent discount will be available for the purchase and installation of products that provide tap water filtration, mineralisation, cooling or carbonation.

The tax reduction can be applied to expenses of up to 1,000 euros for private individuals, or up to 5,000 euros for businesses.

Psychologist bonus

Italy’s psychologist bonus (bonus psicologo), a voucher for residents looking to access public mental health services, will increase from 600 euros to 1,500 euros in 2023. 

The bonus, which was first introduced by Draghi’s government in July 2022, will remain available to residents with an ISEE below 50,000 euros a year.

However, with just 5 million euros allocated to the scheme this year, down from 25 million in 2022, it’s estimated that only around 10 percent of the roughly 400,000 who have applied will be able to benefit.

See more information about claiming the ‘psychologist bonus’ on the INPS website here (in Italian) 

‘Culture bonus’ for 18-year-olds 

A 500-euro payment made to young people on their 18th birthday to spend on books, museum and cinema tickets and other culture-linked items will be means-tested from 2023.

The existing 18App bonus will be replaced by two new payments: the ‘Carta della Cultura Giovani’ (Youth Cultural Card) and the ‘Merit Card’ (Carta del Merito).

The former will be awarded to 18-year-olds whose households have an ISEE under 35,000 euros, and the latter will go to those who graduated from high school with full marks.

Both bonuses will be worth 500 euros and will be applicable to the purchase of the same items encompassed by the former bonus cultura.

Bills bonus

The bonus bollette or bonus sociale, designed to offset ever-rising gas and electricity bills for lower-income households, will be available to those with an ISEE of up to 15,000 euros in 2023, the threshold having been raised from 12,000 in 2022.

Households with at least four dependent children that have an ISEE of up to 20,000 euros are also eligible.

An estimated 6.2 million people should benefit, up from 5.2 million last year. Those who qualify shouldn’t need to take any action; the discount will be automatically applied to energy bills.

Please note that The Local is unable to advise on or assist with claiming tax deductions. For more information, consult an independent financial advisor or get in touch with the Agenzia delle Entrate. Find contact information here

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