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MONEY

From weddings to new cars: 24 Italian tax ‘bonuses’ you could claim

Incentives are on offer for everything from making your property more eco-friendly to buying a new TV. Here’s a guide to some of Italy's most advantageous tax breaks, subsidies and discounts.

From weddings to new cars: 24 Italian tax 'bonuses' you could claim
Millions of people in Austria are still waiting for the €500 payment. (Photo by Christian Dubovan on Unsplash)

Italy often deploys financial incentives to nudge its residents into useful projects, whether it’s installing energy-efficient appliances or having children.

There are usually strings attached, and applying can be a fiddly and time-consuming process. You may well need to ask a professional to shepherd you through the various steps, and even once you’ve claimed, don’t bank on receiving anything back straight away. 

But with those provisos in mind, Italy’s government bonuses could make a significant difference to your budget – in some cases, to the tune of tens of thousands of euros.

Here’s a list of the main perks on offer.

  • €200 cost of living bonus

You could get €200 from the government in June or July, aimed at supporting people against rising inflation and offsetting the soaring cost of living.

Certain categories of workers, as well as pensioners and the unemployed can claim the one-off bonus. Italy’s social security and pensions agency (INPS or ‘Istituto nazionale della previdenza sociale’), has released its initial guidelines on claiming the bonus.

Find details on who can claim here.

Bonuses for buying, building and renovating property

  • 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. Find official information here.

First-time homebuyers aged 35 or under are entitled to further savings, provided their household income does not top €40,000 a year. In this case, certain taxes are wiped out altogether, notary fees are halved, and the state will even cover your deposit and guarantee loans of up €250,000. Read The Local’s guide here

READ ALSO: Revealed: The most expensive places in Italy to buy a house in 2022

  • Renovation bonus

The bonus ristrutturazioni allows you to apply for a 50 percent tax reduction on renovating your property, on expenses up to €96,000. 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.

You’ll receive the bonus in the form of an annual offset on income tax over ten years, or there are also credit transfer (la cessione del credito) and discount on the invoice (sconto in fattura) financing options, leaving other parties to recover the credit on your behalf. Find official information here.

  • Facades bonus

If your property needs work on its exterior, the bonus facciate in 2022 allows you to deduct 60 percent of the cost incurred for renovating the facades of buildings (including street-facing balconies), with no maximum spending limits.

For any work carried out in 2020 and 2021 and not claimed for, the previous higher deduction of 90 percent stands.

The main condition is that your property should be located in a town centre or other populated area, not in the middle of nowhere where no one else will see the improvements. Find the full terms here

Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP
  • 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, fitting sun-resistant mosquito screens or even adding charging points for electric cars, you can claim between 50 and 85 percent of the expenses back.

The amount depends on the type of work you have done, and it’s delivered either in the form of tax credits or via creditors or contractors who’ll recover the credit on your behalf – which means that even people who aren’t tax residents in Italy can benefit. Find out more here

READ ALSO: Budget 2022: Which of Italy’s building bonuses have been extended?

  • Earthquake bonus

The so-called sisma bonus is for properties in areas of Italy classed at medium to high seismic risk (categories 1, 2 or 3). You can claim back 50 percent of the cost of making your property earthquake-safer, rising to as much as 80 percent if you can demonstrate that the final result reduced seismic risk by one or two classes and 85 percent if it involves work on shared parts of apartment buildings.

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

The percentage of the deduction and the rules for eligibility are different depending on the year in which works are done. Higher deductions are granted when the interventions result in a reduction of seismic risk.

The scheme also covers buildings that are demolished altogether and rebuilt. Find more details here

  • Superbonus

A ‘super’ version of both the eco and earthquake bonuses is also available, which in certain cases could allow you to benefit from a tax deduction of up to 110 percent.

The basic principles are the same, but the government has upped the allowance on work carried out on various categories of property. To qualify for the highest deductions, the renovations have to be significant.

Read The Local’s guide to the superbonus here.

READ ALSO: How Italy’s building ‘superbonus’ has changed in 2022

  • 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.

The bonus verde is worth a maximum of €1,800 per property and can be claimed on more than one home in your name. Routine maintenance and upkeep of your garden does not qualify. Find all the conditions here

Photo: Alicia Steels/Unsplash

Other home improvement bonuses

  • Drinking water bonus

With the bonus acqua potabile, you’ll get back 50 percent of the cost of installing filtering, cooling or mineralisation systems that improve the quality of your tap water and make you less likely to buy bottled.

You can claim on expenses of up to €1,000 for individuals or €5,000 for businesses. The Budget Law 2022 has extended this until 2023. Find more details here.

  • Furniture and appliances bonus

The bonus mobili lets you claim a 50 percent tax deduction on the cost of furnishing a property that’s under renovation – so not just if you fancy getting a new wardrobe. 

It also applies to new appliances such as fridges, ovens, washing machines and electric heaters, which must be rated at least A+ for energy efficiency (or A for ovens).

The allowance is available for purchases made by December 31st, 2024 and can only be claimed by those who carry out a building renovation that began on or after January 1st of the year preceding the year you bought the goods.

The deduction is calculated on a total amount not exceeding €10,000 for 2022 and €5,000 for 2023 and 2024 – a reduction from last year’s €16,000.

You can claim the bonus delivered in the form of ten annual tax credits. Find more information here

  • TV bonus

The government extended its TV bonus – previously only for low-income households – to every resident in Italy, to help with the cost of replacing older sets as Italy switches its signal to DVB-T2 in June 2022 and only the latest-generation equipment will work. 

In exchange for trading in a TV purchased before December 2018, you can get up to €100 off the price of a new TV or decoder, in the form of a discount applied directly at the cash register. Find more information here.

Bonuses for families

  • Universal child credit

From 2022, families can apply for Italy’s single universal child benefit (L’assegno unico e universale).

READ ALSO: How families can claim Italy’s new universal single allowance

The new single allowance replaces a raft of other so-called ‘baby bonuses‘ and benefits for parents, such as the ‘separated parents bonus’, thereby unifying a series of measures to support families.

Due to the introduction of this bonus, previous one-off lump sum payments for expectant parents or those who have just had a baby have been scrapped.

Note that some of the previous baby bonus websites are still live, but will not allow you to claim after completing the application.

Find official information on the single child allowance here.

Giving birth in Spain
Photo: Pexels / Pixabay
  • Nursery bonus

Other support still available for parents since the single allowance’s introduction includes the bonus asilo nido, financial help towards the cost of kindergarten for children under three years old. The bonus is means-tested and ranges from €1,500 to €3,000 per year depending on your income.

The same amount is available for forms of support at home to cover children who cannot attend daycare due to a chronic illness.

Apply online here

  • Wedding bonus 

Could the government help cover the cost of your big day? While plans put forward last year to offer brides and grooms a tax reduction on wedding expenses were rejected, the government has instead provided a pot of €60 million directly to Italy’s wedding industry, which has been hit hard by Covid-19 restrictions.

However, some regions are offering their own newlywed bonus, such as Lazio, which is providing up to a maximum of €2,000 to couples planning their special day. The funds can cover expenses such as wedding outfits, catering, flowers, photographers, wedding rings and the honeymoon. Check your specific region’s website – details of the Lazio Bonus Sposi can be found here.

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Health bonuses

  • Disability bonuses

Italy offers a range of financial support for people with disabilities and their families, from tax relief on medical expenses to discounts on wheelchair-friendly vehicles and help with the cost of making your home more accessible.

Find out more about the assistance available here

  • Glasses bonus

You may be aware that medical expenses not covered by the public health system are tax deductible by 19 percent, but not everyone realises that sight tests, glasses, contact lenses and even lens solution are included.

The tax relief only kicks in once you spend more than €129.11, and you’ll need to detail your expenses on a 730 tax returnFind more information here

  • Pet bonus

Similarly, pet owners can deduct 19 percent of their vet bills from their 730 tax return if they spend between €129.11 and €550 over the year. That makes the maximum tax relief available worth around €80. Find out how to claim here

Bonuses for low-income households

Italy reserves some benefits for low-income households, defined as those with an ISEE (Indicatore della Situazione Economica Equivalente, or Equivalent Financial Position Indicator – a way of measuring total income and assets divided by members of the household) below a certain threshold.

  • Utility bills bonus

Households with an ISEE below €12,000 (or €20,000 for families with four or more members) are entitled to a discount on their water, electricity and gas bills, under the the ‘Social bonus for electricity and gas.

It’s calculated based on tax returns and applied automatically without the need to request it. Find more details here

  • Internet bonus

This bonus provides a refund from €300 – and up to €2,500 for businesses – for the purchase of a computer or the installation of an internet connection. The internet bonus 2022 (or bonus digitalizzazione) can be claimed by the provider, who can give the discount at check-out. Find more information here.

Transport bonuses

  • Low-emission car bonus

Italy first introduced a bonus to tempt drivers to trade in their old cars for lower-emission models back in 2019, and you can continue to benefit from the scheme until the end of 2021 (or as long as funds last).

Between 2022 and 2024, the Italian government has allocated €650 million per year for the scheme, with a maximum of €5,000 allocated for every new car bought. You can apply for the new bonus to purchase older models of petrol and diesel cars within a certain limit of CO2 emissions, as well as low-emission electric or hybrid vehicles and motorbikes.

Find more details here.

READ ALSO: ‘How we used a government bonus to buy an electric car in Italy’

Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP
  • Public transport bonus

Season passes for local, regional or interregional public transport in Italy are tax-deductible to the tune of 19 percent, up to a maximum spend of €250. Find details here.

Cultural bonuses

  • Culture bonus

In a drive to get teenagers into cultural activities, anyone who turns 18 this year – born in 2003 – can claim €500 from the government to spend on books, music, cinema or theatre tickets, entry to museums or heritage sites, foreign language lessons, newspaper subscriptions and more.

You have until August 31st to register on the government’s 18app website, and until the end of February 2023 to spend the bonus.  

  • Teacher bonus

Teachers can benefit from a similar €500 bonus, to be used on books, magazines, cultural events, masters courses or any other training that serves their professional development. 

READ ALSO: ‘The job can come as a shock’: What it’s really like working as an English teacher in Italy

Only teachers employed in Italian state schools are eligible: claim by applying for the carta del docente (teachers’ card) here.

  • Heritage bonus

Make a donation to restore, maintain or support Italy’s cultural heritage and you’ll be able to deduct 65 percent of the amount from your tax bill over three years.

Projects you can help fund include maintaining the Roman amphitheatre in Verona, supporting the Ravello Festival on the Amalfi Coast or restoring Florence’s public statues and fountains, with thousands of large and small institutions to choose from. Find details (in English) here

READ ALSO: Rome’s Colosseum opens restored underground labyrinth to the public

Photo: Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Italian regions may offer additional bonuses for local residents, so check your region’s website for details.

There are also several bonuses for business owners, investors and self-employed people: find more information on the Revenue Agency’s website.

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For members

PROPERTY

PROPERTY: Should you hire a renovation agency for your Italian home?

If you're renovating a home in Italy, will you need to pay a middleman to cut through the red tape and language barriers? Silvia Marchetti looks at the pros and cons.

PROPERTY: Should you hire a renovation agency for your Italian home?

The idea of snapping up a cheap, crumbling house in a picturesque Italian village may sound appealing – but doing so always comes with tedious paperwork and the hassle of renovation.

For this reason, a growing number of professional agencies have sprung up in Italy to cater to foreign buyers snapping up cheap homes amid the property frenzy.

In many of the Italian towns selling one-euro or cheap homes, there are now ‘restyle experts’ and agencies that offer renovation services handling everything that could become a nightmare: from dealing with the paperwork and fiscal issues to finding a notary for the deed, contracting an architect, surveyor, a building team and the right suppliers for the furniture.

They also handle the sometimes tricky task of reactivating utilities in properties that have been abandoned for decades.

I’ve travelled to many of these villages and looked at this side of the business, too. Hiring these ‘middle people’ comes with pros and cons, though the positive aspects can certainly outweigh the negatives – provided you’re careful to pick the right professionals. 

READ ALSO: Why Italians aren’t snatching up their country’s one-euro homes

These intermediaries are usually locals who have expertise in real estate and a good list of suppliers’ contacts. This allows them to deliver turnkey homes that were once just heaps of decaying rubble, sparing buyers time and money – particularly those living abroad, who then aren’t forced to fly over to Italy countless times a year to follow the work in progress.

I’ve met several buyers from abroad who purchased cheap homes sight unseen after merely looking at photos posted online by local authorities, but then had to book many expensive long-haul flights to hire the architect, get the paperwork done, and select the construction team (a few even got stuck here during Covid).

Thanks to their contacts the local agents can ensure fast-track renovations are completed within 2-4 months, which could prove very useful as the ‘superbonus’ frenzy in Italy has caused a builder shortage meaning many people renovating property now face long delays

Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP

Their all-inclusive commission usually starts at 5 percent of the total cost of a renovation, or at 2.500 euros per house independently from its cost and dimension. The fee also depends on the type of work being carried out, how tailored it is and whether there are any specific requirements, like installing an indoor elevator or having furniture pieces shipped from the mainland if it happens to be a Sicilian or Sardinian village. 

However, buyers must always be careful. It is highly recommended to make sure the local authorities know who these agents are and how reliable they are in delivering results.

Town halls can often suggest which local companies to contact, and this gives the renovation legitimacy in my view. In a small village, where everyone knows each other, when the town hall recommends an agency there’s always a certain degree of trust involved and agents know that their credibility is at stake (and also future commissions by more clients). 

Word of mouth among foreign buyers is a powerful tool; it can be positive or detrimental for the agency if a restyle isn’t done the right way, or with too many problems.

READ ALSO: How to avoid hidden traps when buying an old property in Italy

So it’s best to avoid agencies from another village, even if nearby, who come to you offering fast and super-cheap services, or local agencies that are not suggested by the mayor’s office. 

Then of course there can be other downsides, which largely depend on how ‘controlling’ and demanding the client is. 

For those not based in Italy full-time, the most important consideration is: how much can you trust these professionals to deliver what you expect, exactly how you want it, without having to be constantly on the ground? 

Photo by Philippe HUGUEN / AFP

Language can be a major obstacle. There are technical building terms that prove difficult to translate, and if the local agency doesn’t have English-speaking renovation professionals with a track record in following foreign clients it’s best to look for an intermediary with a greater language proficiency. 

I remember meeting an American couple once who got lost in translation with a village agent for days, and had to hire a translator just to hire the intermediary.

It’s always useful to ask for a ‘preventivo’ (quote) with VAT indication, considering roughly how much inflation could make the final cost go up. Buyers should also sign a contract with the exact timeframe of the works and delivery date of the new home, including penalties if there are delays on the part of the agency. 

READ ALSO:

But, even when there is complete trust, I think it is impossible to fully restyle an old home from a distance, contacting intermediaries by phone, emails, messages or video calls only. 

Details are key and there’s always something that could be misinterpreted. Buyers based overseas should still follow-up the renovation phases personally, perhaps with one or two flights per year to check all is going well and up to schedule.

Asking to see the costs so far undertaken midway through the restyle is useful to make sure there are no hidden costs or unexpected third parties involved – like buying the most expensive furniture or marble floor when not requested, or hiring a carpenter to build artisan beds.

While there is really no such thing as a hassle-free renovation, these agencies can ease the pressure and do most of the burdensome work – but buyers’ supervision will always be needed.

Read more in The Local’s Italian property section.

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