WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE NOTARY IN THE PURCHASE PROCESS IN ITALY?
In Italy the notary is called on to draw up the sales contract, check the landed property register for data concerning the property being the subject of the transaction, and search the mortgage registry to find whether the property is burdened by any mortgage, seizure, escrow, writ of summons, or court order. The notary must also check the seller’s purchase titles. Once the contract is signed, the notary must then file and deposit the deed of purchase with the appropriate offices.
All in all, then, it may be said that the notary’s duties are a guarantee to the buyer and protect her/his interests.
DO I HAVE TO CONSIDER HOLDING TAX OR OTHER ANNUAL COSTS ON MY PROPERTY IN ITALY BESIDE MY SERVICE CHARGE?
In Italy real individual-owned realty is considered as yielding soil rent, that is real estate income as determined on the basis of cadastral rent, which is in turn given by the number of rooms, the type of property in quality terms, and its location. Income tax as thus determined is borne by the property title holder.
If the owner has no other income in Italy, then she/he the local tax called IMU (Municipal Single Tax), that may vary from one municipality to another, determined on the basis of the property’s cadastral rent at a rate ranging from 0.46 to 1.06%.
In case of actual rent, income as yielded by the property is determined as actual rent less five (5) percent by way of a lump-sum deduction; on this amount there is a taxation around 23%.
It is possible to opt for a flat taxation of 20%, without 5% lump-sum deduction.
In summary, then, realty in Italy is burdened by the following yearly taxes: - personal income/local tax, determined as described above - an essentially waste-disposal duty called TIA (Environmental Hygiene Duty), consisting of a fixed and variable portion and payable by anyone occupying or managing a property in the municipal territory, determined on the basis of the number of individuals in residence or users for each property and the suburb or district where it is located.
WHAT SORT OF COSTS SHOULD I EXPECT IF - IN FUTURE - I SELL MY HOME IN ITALY?
In addition to a percent on the sales price payable to the agent acting as go-between in the transaction (optional), the only costs the owner will have to bear in case of resale before five years from purchase are capital gain taxes. Registration, mortgage and landed property registry duties and notary fees are all to the buyer’s account.
I HAVE HEARD THAT A RECENT LAW PROVIDED MORE PROTECTION FOR OFF-PLAN PROPERTY BUYERS IN ITALY?
Preliminary sales contracts are fairly common practise. Thanks to these contracts developers and builders receive a suitable advance from purchasers by way of a reservation deposit on realty under construction that will be fully assigned to them against full payment at a later date. Hitches though may arise before final and firm assignment, for which there may indeed be severe impediments.
Lawgivers have provided for suitable buyer protection against such risks.
The law currently governing such matters in Italy was approved in 2005 (Law No. 122/2005). Under the law, the developer/builder is obliged to take out a performance bond in favour of the promissory buyer, such as a bank or insurance guarantee, so as to ensure refunding of any promissory buyer down-payment or of any other sum received thereof by the developer/builder. Such preliminary sales contracts are therefore voided by failure to take out an adequate third-party security.
ARE THE PROPERTIES IN ITALY FREEHOLD? WHAT IS THE "CONDOMINIO"?
Ownership entails the right to fully and exclusively enjoy and dispose of any realty being the subject of the entitlement at will.
As a rule in Italy ownership is freehold. Other entitlements, however, may be the subject matter of assignment, such as usufruct (that is, the right to enjoy the advantages of a piece of realty for a limited term, which may be for a few years or the residual lifespan of a real individual). In such cases full ownership is shared under two entitlements, one being usufruct (whether for a limited term or “for the term of her/his natural life”) and the other bare ownership, full entitlement and hence ownership being restored upon usufruct expiring.
Common ownership or coproperty represents a special form of shared ownership that comes to be set up such as in the case of multi-storey dwellings or apartment houses that necessarily share parts of the estate’s structures and facilities. Such common ownership is an addendum to a full and exclusive entitlement. In addition to being the owner of a portion of such an estate in her/his own right, a real individual is also co-owner of areas in common, such as stairways and stairwells connecting each storey on which the private dwellings are located, the building entrance, the lift, the garden, and so forth. Expenses relating to the upkeep of coproperty (that is parts of the estate shared by more than one individually owned part) are annually divided up amongst each individual owner in equitable portions corresponding to the extent of each owner’s private possession.
HOW DOES IT WORK FOR CAPITAL GAIN TAX AND INHERITANCE TAX?
In Italy any such capital gain after less than five years of original purchase or construction of a piece of realty constitutes taxable income. Such income is taxed at the standard rates applied to personal income.
The picture changes though for capital gain deriving from realty transferred five years after purchase or construction by way of succession or donation. As regards donations, a further proviso in the case of dwellings is that the property have been effectively lived in period by the donor or the donor’s next-of-kin as their principal dwelling for most of the period between purchase or construction and transfer.
Since 2006, assignees are allowed to opt for different rate other than the standard ones applied to personal income for any capital gain under the foregoing cases. A lower rates is contemplated for this so-called substitutive duty (imposta sostitutiva), and namely 20%. To be eligible the assignee must submit due request to the notary at the moment of transfer and make a formal declaration of intent there of.
Inheritances and donations
In 2006 the Italian government revived estate and death duty on inheritances and donations. This burden is levied on any assignment of titles and rights in case of death or donation, even if gratuitous. The duty is determined on the basis of the value of the property thus transferred less deductible liabilities. If the deceased person or donor resides abroad, the duty is levied on the value of assets and titles based in Italy, that is on assets and titles filed with public registries and therefore inclusive of realty, motor vehicles, boats, and so on. Depending on the degree of relationship of the beneficiary with the deceased person or donor, different exemption thresholds and rates are contemplated as detailed in the table below.
|RATES||HEIR||EXEMPTION THRESHOLD for each beneficiary|
|4%||– spouse and next of kin in direct line of descent||Euro 1,000,000|
|6%||– brothers and sisters||Euro 100,000|
|6%||– other kin to the 4th and 3rd degree in direct and collateral line of descent, respectively||–|
|8%||– other heirs||–|
WHAT ARE THE MAIN TRANSACTION COSTS WHEN I PURCHASE A PROPERTY IN ITALY?
A registration or transfer fee, mortgage and land survey duties, or alternatively VAT, are the main tax burdens in any realty transaction in Italy.
VAT applies when the seller is a developer or builder, while the other three fees are levied in the case of private sellers or firms other than the builder.
VAT on home property is charged at a rate of ten (10) percent, reduced to four (4) percent for property purchased as the buyer’s first-time home.
When the transaction is VAT exempt, then the sale is burdened by a registration or transfer fee at the rate of seven (7) percent (reduced to three (3) percent for first-time buyers), and land survey and mortgage dues, both at a the rate of three (3) percent (reduced to a fixed amount of 168 Euro for first-time buyers).
All the foregoing fees and duties (registration or transfer fee, mortgage and land survey duties) are paid in advance by the buyer and discharged by the notary when registering the sales and purchase contract.
The base for determining the VAT payable on property liable to this tax is the price agreed upon by the parties to the transaction and declared by them in the transfer deed. If a bank loan or mortgage has been taken out to purchase the property, then the price specified in the deed cannot be less than the amount disbursed for the loan or mortgage.
|REALTY TRANSFER FEES||Fees/duties to BUYER’s ACCOUNT|
|1) from DEVELOPERS, BUILDERS orREFURBISHERS on sales made by them within 4 years of works completion|
|– first-time home||Euro 168||Euro 168||3%||4%|
|– other dwellings||Euro 168||Euro 168||Euro 168||
|2) from NON-BUILDING FIRMS that have supervised reconstruction works or from builders on sales made by them after 4 years of works completion||.||.||.||.|
|– first-time home||Euro 168||>Euro 168||3%||exempt|
|– other dwellings||1%||2%||7%||exempt|
|3) from PRIVATE sellers||.||.||.||.|
|– first-time home||Euro 168||Euro 168||3%||No|
|– other dwellings||1%||2%||7%||No|
Facilitations are granted only when the following prerequisites are met:
– non-luxury homes
– realty located in the municipality where the buyer resides or in which the buyer will set up residence within eighteen (18) months of purchase, or in which the buyer’s chief business activity is located.
Other costs and expenses to be considered are notary fees, determined on the basis of property value, and any other brokerage fees.
Stefano Raddi (Chartered Accountant)
*The above information is complimentary and for guidance only. Realitalia recommends that you seek appropriate legal and tax advise on your purchase in Italy.
Realitalia recommends that you seek appropriate legal and tax advise on your purchase in Italy.