[written by Alan Turner]
So, you’ve arrived in Italy! You’re no doubt enjoying copious amounts of pasta, pizza, vino rosso and perhaps the odd grappa, not to mention the sunshine of course!
Moving to a new country always comes with the feel of a long holiday at first, but before too long life’s practical issues will start to take over and you will need to maintain everyday life as you would at home. First and foremost, get your financial matters straight. As time goes on, things can spiral out of control and basic needs like withdrawing cash can start to rack up costly fees if you are slow to set up local facilities.
Last time we put forward the first half of our financial planning fundamentals. Here is the second part to our guide, which will hopefully help you to get things settled in Italy and give you some more key areas to think about.
Understand your tax position
Overall don’t be overly worried about tax planning in Italy. The process is not that different to those in other European countries. If you plan appropriately, in good time, and do things properly you will have no problems.
Everyone in Italy is issued with a tax code, which will stick with you through your time here. There is no wealth tax or inheritance tax in Italy, whilst income tax will range between 15% and 45% depending on your earnings.
As an expat you should look to work with an adviser to ensure that not only your domestic tax requirements are met, but that your current investments in Italy and elsewhere are structured in the most effective way as well as making sure that your longer term planning needs are fully compliant.
Avoid unnecessary currency risk
The only way to make certain that you do not have exchange rate issues is to ensure that your income and expenditure are in the same currency. This will be the case if you are earning and living in Italy, but for many expats exchange rate risk is a factor.
If you continue to have expenses, such as the running costs for your house retained in your home country you will have a long term issue to address.
If you are purchasing a home in Italy partially financed with funds from your home country you will be exposed to exchange rate risk, which could fundamentally change the attractiveness or even viability of the purchase if there is a major shift in exchange rates before the deal is finalized.
Where you have such costs subject to exchange rate risk you can ensure that you have cover by making sure you leave some funds at home to cover these costs or by arranging for a deal with your employer that either splits your salary between the two currencies.
For larger transactions you should seek advice on how to hedge the risk.
Make sure you have the obliged insurances
As a resident of Italy you will need to have various kinds of insurance. Health Insurance is compulsory for all foreign residents in Italy and proof of cover must be shown when obtaining a residence permit.
Home insurance in Italy generally is considered to be cheaper than most other European countries. It is often a condition of obtaining a mortgage that you have insurance in place, so do check that if you are planning to buy. Similarly, life insurance is also likely to be a condition of any mortgage.
Understand the use and treatment of trusts
Many expats living in Italy have income from trust funds held abroad or are beneficiaries of property owned by trusts. However, Italy recognises trusts only in limited circumstances, and problems can also arise when the trust is located in an offshore jurisdiction. You should seek advice on all aspects of trusts, their treatment from an Italian perspective and their taxation under Italian rules.
Make use of surplus income with regular savings
If you are working in Italy, and have a surplus income, then you should again be looking to invest this money in the most tax efficient way possible. Expats all-over the world have an array of options at their disposal that offer significant and specific benefits.
I cannot emphasise this enough. When you move abroad you are taking on so many unknowns and any assumptions that financial matters will work in exactly the same way as at home are simply misguided. Besides anything else, it is highly likely that there will be very little literature available to you direct from providers in English.
Take your time to find a suitable adviser that has experience in dealing with clients of your type and of your nationality. This will ensure that they can give advice specific to your circumstances and take due consideration of the effects that any decisions you make will have on your tax and/or financial position in Italy and in your home country.
Alan Turner writes for Expertsforexpats.com, a very informative website where you can find must have information for all people who live or would like to move abroad. So wherever you’d like to live in the world, make sure you have a look at Expertsforexpats.com first!