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Easier Italian visas for investors, employees, professionals and researchers moving to the country

by Alessandro Martinelli and Antonio Tomassini

The new Italian Budget Law provides a series of incentives related to the entry and residence visas for those intending to invest in Italy, as well as an improvement of the tax regime for employees transferring their residence in Italy, increasing the country’s fiscal appeal and extending the benefits to professionals and also stabilizing the benefits for professors and researchers who decide to move back their fiscal residency to Italy.

The current regulatory framework on immigration inflow has been modified, and Article 26 bis of the consolidated law on immigration includes a special premium regime for incoming immigrants who are going to stay longer than three months lasting two years (renewable, under certain circumstances, for further three years).

To benefit from such a regime - that leads to obtaining an “investor visa” - the non-residents will have to demonstrate the commitment to invest in Italy either (i) €2 million in government bonds, to be kept for at least 2 years; (ii) €1 million in participation in share capital of a company residing and operating in Italy or €500.000 if the company is an innovative start up registered in a special section of the business register; (iii) €1 million in philanthropic donations within the fields of culture, education, immigration management, scientific research or cultural heritage restoration.

A set of procedures is in place in order to verify the compliance with the aforementioned requirements, and the licit origin of the lump sum, involving UIF (financial information unit).

A few modifications to the Decree on Internalization (D.lgs. 147/2015) have been implemented, intervening on the special regime for employees transferring their residence in Italy in order to work here, extending its amplitude and also increasing the annexed fiscal benefit’s appeal.

Article 16 of D.lgs. 147/2015 has also been modified, extending tax reductions on incomes to professionals and consultants, upon the condition that they stay in Italy for at least two years. The no tax area has been elevated to 50% (after having been limited to 30%) of the income earned in our country by employees or professionals.

These modifications will also extend the number of interested individuals, so far limited to UE resident citizens, including citizens residing in extra-UE countries that have either an agreement with Italy to avoid double taxation on taxable incomes or an agreement on exchange of tax information, providing that those individuals hold an undergraduate degree and have worked continuously as employees (or professionals) outside Italy over the last 24 months.

The legal standards that extend the amount of no tax incomes and those extending the benefits to extra-UE citizens will be effective starting from the tax year ongoing at January the 1st 2017.

Finally the premium regime for researcher and professors returning to Italy has been stabilized and it now generally provides for employees and professionals who transferred their residence to Italy after May 31st 2010, an exclusion of 90% of their remuneration from the estimated taxable basis for IRPEF (income tax) and IRAP (regional tax). However there are specific conditions to be verified, related to the actual research activities carried out, and anyway it’s a temporary regime, valid for the tax years in which the Italian residence is acquired and for the three following years.