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Tales of an olive tree

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Italy
This article is published on: 17th April 2023


I wrote this article because during this Easter period we decided to stay in and around Rome. We took a number of long bike rides around the city and along the Tiber and I could not help but notice the spring green of Rome, once again.

It’s an amazing sight and one that I feel grateful for. It also reminded me that whilst the investment markets are still recovering slowly and tentatively from last year’s sell off due to the Ukraine/Russia war, they are cyclical by nature and whilst, as humans, we will always tend to run from one crisis to another, there will inevitably be times of abundance and plenty.

My experience of olive trees through my clients

You may have olives’ trees that you tend to in your garden or land, in Italy. I know that many of my clients do, and take great satisfaction in looking after them year in year out to harvest the precious oil that comes from them but, listening to the tales over the years, I can make many comparisons with investment markets.

The ‘Ulivo’ goes through the seasons of the years but never appears to bear fruit in a linear way. In fact, many of you tell me that some years the ‘Ulivo’ may not produce any fruit, other years it is plagued by the ‘moscerino’ (little fly), other years there isn’t enough frost or too little frost and some years you get a double harvest. In other years your friend with the neighbouring field, facing a different direction, has a bountiful year, whilst you have none. None of it seems to make any sense. All variable factors under which you have no control but you accept as part of your nurture for the ‘Ulivo’.

It seems that like every living breathing organism, the ‘Ulivo’ will provide what is needed, but not necessarily in the way you would always want it to. A defined amount of litres of oil each year, just enough to feed my family and friends would be fine. No such luck!

It is easy to forget that the component parts of investment markets are in fact living breathing human beings. Every company, government or supranational is run by people who are subject to folly, excess, corruption, huge advances forward, amazing decisions which benefit everyone, building and growing enterprises and generally trying to find a healthy balance.

Just like the ‘Ulivo’ the investment markets go through their cycles of life according to many variable factors of which we have no control. Flowers blooming (markets rising), leaves falling (market falls), harsh winds (the volatility), buds sprouting (opportunities presenting themselves) and then the cycle repeats itself. Your portfolio goes through its own cycles of life.

I have seen in the past that people new to Italy, and the ‘Ulivo’, have talked of uprooting an old tree (with those amazing architecturally contorted trunks) because it’s old and no longer bears fruit, only to be told by someone with more experience that it just needs to be trimmed in the right way, at the right time of year and creating that hollow space in the middle of the tree so the light can shine through (the equivalent of a review of your portfolio) only for the tree to once again bear fruit when the conditions are favourable for it to do so. This is not to say that dead or dying plants should not be replaced. If they have served their purpose and need to be replaced with a younger healthier variant then so be it.

There are so many similarities between our investment portfolios. The timescales and the variables may differ (wars or winter / inflation or summer) but the ebb and flow, the rises and falls and the seasonal changes are ever present.

The coming years may be lean years, or could provide us with way more then we could ever want or need. Ours is not to know, nor have any control over the variables, but only to do the best we can to make sure that we look after what we have.

If you find it difficult to stick with your investment strategies and would like to get busy trying to chase market returns (I include myself in this group, but am trained enough to know that it doesn’t generate higher returns), the research shows that it has no better effect than generating higher transaction costs and other fees associated with switching investments frequently. The only thing you can be assured of is lower investment returns as a result.

Patience is key! Live the seasons and wait
for abundance to once again raise its bountiful head.

Cash savings

Let’s talk cash!

OK, now that I have my hippie moment out of the way, we can get back to talking about financial things again. So, let’s talk about cash that you might have sitting around and finding a better home for it.

Unfortunately, as many of you find out, once you leave your home country and become resident in Italy, you are almost instantly excluded from taking out new financial products in your home country and instead need to look at what other offerings are available to you here. This means often looking at what Italian or EU based banks can offer, and principally in EUR.

A number of people have mentioned to me recently about the savings rates available in the UK, nearing 5% in some cases and wondering whether they can achieve anything similar in Italy or the EU. The answer is that there seems to be very few, and where they are available the interest rate varies between 2.5% and 3% gross max for 1 year deposits, rising as much as 4.5% if you are willing to lock your funds up for 3 years. In addition, you have to look out for accounts which are ‘vincolati’ i.e. they have terms and conditions attached. These may be as simple as locking you in for a specific term (fixed deposit) or requiring you to open a current account and transfer your basic banking to them as well. In true form things are made a little more complicated than somewhere like the UK.

Italians, of course, are akin to also looking at their home country government bonds which are currently paying around 3% interest gross at the moment. having dropped from about 3.38% gross around the beginning of March.

One advantage of investing in government debt directly is that it offers an attractive tax rate at 12.5% rather than the 26% for other financial instruments.  Placing cash monies into short term Italian or EU government debt, if you are seeking better EUR returns on your cash, might be a useful alternative to seeking out a higher paying deposit account. (Bear in mind that if you want your capital back at the end of the bond period then you need to wait until  bond term matures. Selling early could mean a capital loss). Of course, if you are seeking better returns in other currencies then you can buy government debt in that country instead.   Government debt, wherever it is purchased still attracts the 12.5% tax rate on interest in Italy.

If you are simply looking for a deposit account then you could do no better than compare rates on or 

The only way to purchase government bonds is through an exchange mechanism such as an investment platform.  In Italy, investment and banking are highly institutionalised so speaking with your bank might be the best way to approach it if you are new to this kind of investment.  Otherwise, a quick online check with throw up some other solutions.

inflation in Italy

Inflation considerations

Whilst these rates offer considerably more than the last decade it is indicative of the bigger and more aggressive trend upwards: inflation.
For perspective, the USA and UK are experiencing inflation ( measured by the Consumer Prices Index) at around 9% and 10% respectively. Italy is currently on 7.7% inflation year on year.

So, regardless of how much you might make on a deposit it is always going to be well below the rate at which the spending power of your savings is being eroded year on year. You may know my thoughts on the matter already, as I have mentioned it in previous E-zines, but I think inflation is here to stay, and I am deeply suspicious of the opinions that it will fall back to 2 or 4% within a year or so. There is so much debt in western economies and the only way to rid ourselves of it, and bring back economic stability to the west is to inflate it away. That could mean more medium term pain.

In summary

If you have cash lying around in deposit accounts, cash which you may need for an emergency or just need to live on, then seek out better interest paying accounts. A good strategy is to keep approx. 6 months cash on hand and then stagger your further 6 months cash needs in 6 month deposits, 12 month,18 month etc. In this way every 6 months you have a maturing deposit when your cash starts to run out. If you don’t need the cash then you just roll it over into another longer term deposit.

But whatever you do, don’t keep all your life savings in cash hoping that a higher interest rate will protect you from rising prices. It won’t!

Tax time in Italy

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Italy, Tax in Italy
This article is published on: 22nd March 2023


2023 is the year that I turn 49 years old. Where do the years go? 50 next year and strangely enough I don’t feel as anxious about it as I thought I would. I actually feel quite good about it, and I have made some personal commitments to spend more time in nature and exercise regularly, but not excessively (I suffered glandular fever a few years ago and so can’t workout as hard as I used to).

It was on one of those walks in nature recently that I actually thought that it’s about that time when our commercialisti start asking us to send our financial information for tax calculation and payment. (unless you are one of those people who is well prepared and has done it already).

Of course, we always have to supply a full list of our incomes and assets (Italian and foreign), bank accounts and properties and taxable assets.  However, I am not sure about you, but my commercialista doesn’t really give me much information on the corresponding list of deductions and detractions available to offset/reduce some of our tax bill, so I thought I would write this article to provide you with a full list for the financial year 2022.  [A reminder to always check your tax return, once filed by your commercialista, to ensure that errors haven’t been made, especially on the foreign assets section Quadro RW .  See my article on this for more information Declaring taxes in Italy

Some of these may be relevant to you, others not, but at least you have the list which you can refer to and always share with others, if you think it might help.   There are distinct categories ranging from family expenses to renovation/property expenses as well.   Also remember that in ALL cases now, to claim an expense you MUST have paid by electronic/traceable means i.e. bonifico (bank transfer) or carta di credito and you MUST have a corresponding scontrino fiscale in the case of things like farmacia expenses. For larger purchases a fattura (invoice) is required.  Without the necessary document you will not be able to claim back the tax relief.

tax time in italy

So, without further ado, here is the list:


These attract a detraction of 19% of the full value of the expense.

  • The abbonamento (pass) for local, regional and inter-regional public transport, up to a maximum of €250 for the cost of the pass
  • A maximum spend of €530 or €1219,14 (depending on the type of policy) for life insurance,  polizze  per infortunio (accident) or permanent disability policies
  • All costs for deceased family members i.e. funeral
  • A €632 maximum spend per child for kindergarten cost (public or private)
  • The costs of infant, (scuola infanzia), junior (primarie) and secondary (secondaria) schools.  Also University, Conservatorio and AFAM (Instituto Alta Forma Artistica Musicale Coreutica)
  • Costs for students diagnosed with DSA (disturbo specifico dell’ apprendimento) – a category of ADHD
  • A maximum spend of €210 for the costs of sport for children until 18 years old
  •   A maximum spend of €2633 for the costs of rent for students who are living away from their home region, including abroad
  • A full deduction of contributions into an Italian private pension scheme (previdenza complementare) up to an annual limit of €5164,57
Prima Casa Italy


  •  A 19% detraction on mortgage interest, where it has been used for the purchase or construction of the ‘Prima Casa’


These all attract a 19% detraction:

  • On a spend more than €129,11 for pharmaceuticals, ticket, hospital costs, specialist services and surgery costs.  Analisi, thermal cures (when prescribed), medical equipment, glasses and/ or contact lenses that meet the CE standard
  •  Vets costs from €129.11 to €500 spend
  • Costs to assist with maintaining personal independence e.g. the purchase of a vehicle necessary to get to and from hospital.  (Limited to a maximum spend of €2100 for those on incomes less than €40000pa)
  • A maximum spend of €750 for the cost of life insurance  where the benefit is for someone with a serious disability
  • Other general medical expenses attract the 19% detraction on the cost, which can then be detracted from your or your family income, where they are being supported  by you (a carico)


the full cost of donations to:

  • Cultural and artistic activities
  • Cooperative entities in the cultural /artistic sector
  • Associations
  • Scholastic institutions of every type
  • Funds donated to the Italian state


Restructuring and renovation costs
For the tax year 2022, the following deductions are available:

  • 60% on the full expenses of repair to the outside of your property – specific criteria apply! BONUS FACCIATA
  • 50% on the cost of restructuring with a max spend of €90000 or 80% of the total cost where it was used to restructure for seismic risks. BONUS SISMA
  • 65% of the cost for interventions for energy saving measures around the home.
  • 50% of the cost of furniture and big elettrodomestici goods  (where they meet certain criteria) BONUS MOBILI
  • 36% on a max spend of €5000 for landscape work in the garden (reimbursed over 5 years) BONUS VERDE
  • 50% for ordinary maintenance
  • 75% for interventions for energy saving measures for condomini
  • 110% SUPERBONUS for specific work
(** the superbonus has been suspended by the Meloni government because they found a hole of €38 billion in the public finances due to fraudulent activity related to the Superbonus. It is unknown when and if any applications made in 2022 will be reimbursed).
  • From 2023 the 110% SUPERBONUS falls to 90%  (but is likely to be fraught with the same issues as the 110% bonus, in my opinion)
  • 50% of the cost of installing an electric car recharging column

Where you have an income up to €120,000 pa the expenses, as described in this article, will be fully allowed.  Where your income is over €120,000pa then the detractions will be reduced according to a formula based on your total income.

And that’s it!  Everything that you can detract from your income in 2022 to try and reduce your tax bill in Italy.  If that doesn’t make a difference, then you may need to have a look at your overall finances to try and plan in different ways.

tax changes in Italy

Possible Italian tax changes

It should be noted that the Meloni government is currently debating how they can follow through on their election promise to simplify the tax system by reducing the tax bands from 4 to 3, in the coming year, and then hopefully moving to a 2 tax band system.  If they manage to pass this then they will likely reduce/remove the system of detractions/deductions by lowering the bottom rate of tax, or maybe introduce a starting rate tax allowance for everyone (unlikely, in my opinion.  The talk is that an allowance may be offered to workers [not self-employed] and pensionati)  However, they are in first stage negotiations and it may be some time before things come to pass.

The other thing they are currently discussing is simplification of the taxation of investment income and gains.   Presently income and gains from certain types of investments cannot be offset against losses from the same investment.  A system they called ‘redditi di capitale’ e ‘redditi diversi’.   There is talk to remove this, what I consider a rather odd system, and have the same system as everywhere else, income, gains and losses from investment income treated in the same way.

National Insurance Card

Update on making Voluntary National Insurance contributions UK

Anyone who has a missing contribution record for UK National Insurance contributions in the UK between April 2006 and April 2016 will still have the opportunity to make up these contributions until the 31st July 2023, which will still give you the chance to increase your state pension entitlement from the UK. The previous deadline was the 5th April 2023.

The reasoning behind this decision from the UK government is that from April 2023 anyone retiring will need to have a national insurance contribution record of 35 years to receive the maximum state pension.   Between 2006 and 2016 different maximum contribution periods may have applied and therefore the UK government is giving you the opportunity to maximise your contributions until July 2023.   After this time, it will only be possible to repay the missing previous 6 years contributions in your national insurance record.  If you want to know more, you can look at the website.

Bear in mind that the state pension office will likely be overwhelmed with requests at this time, so if you need to make a request for back payments then you may need to do so immediately, otherwise they may not be able to respond to you in time.

If you are unsure of your National Insurance contribution record then you can check it online at  You will need your UK national insurance number handy.

Sign up to my ezine below

Gareth Horsfall

Tax time in Italy

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Italy, Tax in Italy
This article is published on: 17th March 2023


Tax time in Italy – when our commercialisti wake up from their winter ‘letargo’ (aka – well-earned down) and start asking us to send our financial information for tax payment, if you haven’t done it already of course.


On top of the information regarding our taxable assets and income there is the list of allowable deductions /detractions to assist in lowering your tax bill.

In this article, I review that list for fiscal tax year 2022.

SPESE FAMIGLIARI – family expenses. These attract a detraction of 19% of the value of the expense.

  • The abbonamento (pass) for local, regional and inter-regional public transport, up to a maximum of €250 for the cost of the pass
  • A maximum expense of €530 or €1219.14 for life insurance, polizze infortuni (accident) or permanent disability policies
  • All costs for deceased family members, i.e. funeral
  • €632 per child for kindergarten cost (public or private)
  • The costs of infant, (scuola d’infanzia), junior (primarie) and secondary (secondaria) schools. Also University, Conservatorio and AFAM (Instituto Alta Forma Artistica, Musicale e Coreutica)
  • Costs for students diagnosed with DSA (disturbo specifico dell’apprendimento) – a category of ADHD
  • A maximum of €210 for the costs of sport for children until 18 years old
  • A maximum of €2633 for the costs of rent for students who are living away from their home/region, including abroad


  • A 19% detraction on mortgage interest, where it has been used for the purchase or construction of the ‘Prima Casa’

SPESE MEDICHE – medical expenses. These all attract a 19% detraction:

  • When spending more than €129.11 for pharmaceuticals, ticket, hospital costs, specialist services and surgery costs. Tests, thermal cures (when prescribed), medical equipment, glasses and/ or contact lenses that meet the CE standard
  • Vets costs from €129.11 to €500
  • Costs to assist with maintaining personal independence e.g. the purchase of a vehicle necessary to get to and from hospital. (Limited to a maximum spend of €2100 for those on incomes lower than €40000pa)
  • A maximum spend of €750 for the cost of life insurance where the benefit is for someone with a serious disability
  • Other general medical expenses attract the 19% detraction on the cost, which can then be detracted from your or your family income, where they are being supported you (a carico)

LIBERE DONAZIONI – the full cost of donations to:

  • Cultural and artistic
  • Cooperative entities in the cultural /artistic sector
  • Scholastic institutions of every
  • Funds donated to the Italian state

BONUS EDILIZIE – restructuring and renovation costs

For the tax year 2022, the following detractions are available:

  • 60% on the full expenses of repair to the outside of your property – specific criteria apply! BONUS FACCIATA
  • 50% on the cost of restructuring with a max spend of €90000 or 80% of the total cost where it was used to restructure for seismic risks. BONUS SISMA
  • 65% of the cost for interventions for energy savings measures around the
  • 50% of the cost of furniture and big household appliances (where they meet certain criteria) BONUS MOBILI
  • 36% on a max spend of €5000 for landscape work in the garden (reimbursed over 5 years) BONUS VERDE
  • 50% for ordinary maintenance
  • 75% for interventions for energy saving measures for condomini (apartment blocks)
  • 110% SUPERBONUS for specific work

(** the superbonus has been suspended by the Meloni government because they found a hole of €38 billion in the public finances due to fraudulent activity related to the Superbonus. It is unknown when and if any applications made in 2022 will be reimbursed).

  • From 2023 the 110% SUPERBONUS falls to 90% (but is likely to be fraught with the same issues as the 110% bonus, in my opinion)
  • 50% of the cost of installing an electric car recharging

Where you have an income up to €120,000 pa the expenses, as described in this article, will be fully allowed. Where you income is over €120,000pa then the detractions will be reduced according to a formula based on your total income.


And that’s it. Everything that you can detract from your income in 2022 to try and reduce your tax bill in Italy. If that doesn’t make a difference, then you may need to have a look at your overall finances to try and plan in different ways.

It should also be noted that the Meloni government is currently debating how they can simplify this whole system by reducing the tax bands from four to three in the coming year, and then hopefully moving to a two tax band system. If they manage to pass this, then they will likely reduce/remove this system of detractions/deductions by lowering the bottom rate of tax, or maybe introducing a starting rate tax allowance for everyone (unlikely). However, they are in first stage negotiations and it may be some time before things come to pass.

So what does 2023 have in store?

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Italy
This article is published on: 1st February 2023


I don’t think I have ever wanted to leave a year behind me as much I did 2022.  Well, maybe 2008/2009, but 2022 recorded as one of the most brutal in my career.  No matter which direction there only seemed to be bad news.  Thankfully we have passed into 2023.

So what can expect from 2023?

Working with The Spectrum IFA Group means that I am invited each year to their annual conference where we are invited to listen to a number of fund / asset managers who can give us some insight into what has happened and also where things might be heading. This conference was a special one because it was the 20th anniversary of the The Spectrum IFA Group and so the event was held at Gleneagles in Scotland. Apart from the cold (average -2 degree), the conference went well and I managed to scribble some notes from the various speakers, my favourites being David Coombes from Rathbones Asset Managers, Rob Gordon from Dreihaus/VAM Investment funds and Rob Clarry from Evelyn Partners.

(Disclaimer: It should be noted the views expressed here are my own. The information collected has been interpreted by me and can only be taken as such. To protect the names mentioned above none of this article should be taken as advice, recommendations or an offer of solicitation from the fund/asset managers themselves or the companies they represent).

Heads of State UN meeting

“Heads of State don’t have a clue what they are doing…yet they think they can predict the future”

This was how one asset manager (who shall remain unnamed) started his presentation. The point being that if we are basing our investment ideas and knowledge on economists, central banks or governments themselves, then it is almost certain that you are going to get it wrong.

But don’t just take my word for it, let’s looks at some investment examples that didn’t go well in 2022, and which prove the case:

1. Wind Power is the future…but is it? It produces only when the wind blows, it is significantly more costly than traditional energy sources. The amount of ecological damage to build wind turbines in terms of resources required and to install them probably far outweighs the benefits if you place it against other alternative energy sources. In addition, the blades have a lifespan of approximately 10 years then they need to be replaced and buried somewhere because they cannot be recycled. Yet, faced with all these facts and a sector heavily subsidised by government money, a Danish wind power company: Vestas, which has never turned a sizeable profit was worth more than Apple at one point.

2. Cryptocurrency: There is not a lot to say about Crypto in 2022 other than a complete investment disaster. Bitcoin lost 60% of its value in 2022. A pretty high risk asset if ever there was one. Crypto was also plagued by the collapse of FTX with literal losses ( i.e lost and likely never to be found) assets of $1-2 billion. Hackers also stole $4.3 billion of cryptocurrency in 2022, an increase of 37% from 2021. Yet, governments tell us that government backed crypto-currencies are the future. I will stick with cash, thank you very much!

3. Tesla and Elon: How the darling of the investment world, and government officials alike, has been ousted from his perch. A bit like crypto currency Tesla lost 65% of its value in 2022. You might argue that he is changing the world with his electric vehicles, yet did you know that Volkswagen made more electric vehicles in Europe in 2022 than Tesla? So, who is changing the world? His move to Twitter should also raise eyebrows. A company worth $40bn on the world’s financial markets which has yet to show a profit and one which he also says will ‘change the world’. Remain a sceptic!

4. Inflation is transitionary: Governments also said that when the inflation train left the station in 2020, that, at best, it would be, quote, ‘transitionary’. i.e it would go away once post Covid supply chains returned to normal. I never believed this and wrote about it on a few occasions in the last couple of years. Let me tell you that inflation is here to stay…and would you like some numbers on that? Well David Coombes from Rathbones hazards a guess that inflation will continue at approx 4% in the US, 3-4% in the EU and 5-6% in the UK as an average over the next 3 years. I suspect those are headline ‘government’ declared rates. My guess is that real inflation may be somewhat higher. Protecting those savings and investments has never been more important.

Did you know that inflation needs to only run at 7% per annum for 10 years for the value of your money to halve. 2022 ‘true’ inflation was more like 10-15% across Europe, so that’s 2 of those 10 years taken care of already.

So what does 2023 have in store?

So with all this doom and gloom, what actually did do well in 2022?

Answer: The old, out of favour, industries of the past: BP, Shell, Lockheed, Schlumberger, Caterpillar et al.

Yep, those very same industries which no one wants to invest in any longer. They turned the corner and became the star performers of the investment markets. In fact, anything moderately related to ethical / sustainable / ecological investment had the hardest time in 2022. It was enough to test anyone’s ethical investment values!

However, the truth of the matter is that with interest rates likely to be higher in the next 5 years than they have been in the last 5 years, and the cost of debt being significantly higher, we may just see some of the older, cash rich industries doing quite well, and seeing some of the newer debt heavy companies struggling or even going bust.

Take Netflix. (It has become my go to TV channel!). Netflix’s business model is built on continual expansion of its subscribers and content. However, it has been heavily funded by cheap debt. How might it progress in a world where the debt it needs to make a new series costs 5 times more than before? I suspect it might survive this new world it finds itself in, but could it become a takeover target from a more established and cash rich company, like Disney?

Another example of one of those new, sustainable, ethical businesses, potential disruptor / game changer was Impossible Meat. For those that are not aware they are producing plant-based meat alternatives. In 2022 they saw their share price fall 96% as consumers turned away from their product. (I tried them myself and can’t say I was too impressed!). An example of governments pushing us towards more plant-based and lab made foods, not to forget bugs. But can they accurately predict the future?

So, the cost of servicing debt is certainly going to reshape the investment world again, yet there is one major theme which will shape the world in years to come: SECURITY and I don’t just mean military security, but also energy and food security.


Energy Security
Energy security is being driven by the war in Ukraine and the end of the reliance on Russian cheap energy. A perfect example of how energy policy is needing to change focus is Giorgia Meloni’s recent trip to Algeria to agree access to their gas fields, and export into Europe. Algeria has the 11th largest reserves in the world and have a gas surplus. Italy is trying to line itself up as an energy hub for Europe given that gas will likely now come in from the global south rather than the north, and Italy, it would seem, is ideally placed as a central Mediterranean country and its access into the EU. The only snag, which is not much talked about, is the fact that Algeria is a Russia ally and currently buys fighter jets from Russia and supports it in the war with Ukraine, so how the Italy/Algeria agreement will work is anyone’s guess.

Military security
Military security for the EU is still going to come from NATO (i.e US led military policy). It could be argued that the Ukraine war is not in the EU’s interests, in particular Germany, but they have to kowtow to NATO/US driven policy because the EU never could agree on building an army of its own to defend itself, and hence self- determination in terms of defence policy. There is no other real option and so the EU will very likely continue to arm Ukraine and stretch out the war if that is what US policy dictates, even when negotiations to end it might be possible. The order books of most armament / defence companies will be very full for some years to come.

Food security
This was an area which provoked more discussion from the fund managers. In particular how the West will need to develop to ensure that food is still delivered to our supermarkets.

A good example of a company that is innovating in the area of food security is John Deere. The agricultural machinery and tractor marker. They have already developed a fleet of unmanned vehicles which can plant, monitor and harvest. These machines are no longer human driven one-purpose vehicles. They are machines with embedded computers, checking soil temperature and microbe levels, adding fertilizer when needed and checking weather signals, determining when to plant, when to harvest etc, and all without any human intervention in the field. The biggest customers will ultimately be the biggest producers, namely the US, Brazil and Ukraine (you may be surprised about Ukraine being in the list, but a benefit of war for large industries is that they can take advantage of disaster capitalism. Large US and International agricultural companies have been able to take advantage of new laws liberalizing the sale of agricultural land in Ukraine. Previously, Ukrainian small farmers were protected and forbidden to sell their land to large agro interests. Now, big companies are moving in to take charge of Ukrainian land. On one hand the farms will benefit from economies of scale, but the small-scale sustainable farming model will struggle to survive).

Agricultural and food production will be a big investment theme in the coming years!

future trends

So, with all these themes in mind, the broad outlook for the future and investment, according to Evelyn Partners, will be determined by 4 main Megatrends.


I won’t bore you with details in each area, but here are some points around the subjects discussed:

SHIFTING DEMOGRAPHICS. Ageing populations, more opportunity for pharmaceutical companies and drug development, more use of online doctoring and diagnosis, roll out of robots in our hospitals and clinics (robot cleaners, robot secretaries, robot surgeons, robot beds moving freely from ward to surgery room without the need for people). It’s all coming and given that 80 out of every 100 people will be over the age of 65 by 2050 in Japan, and around 60 in 100 in Europe, it is difficult to see how our world will survive without increased development and innovation in the healthcare sector.

CHANGING WORLD ORDER. The US/China decoupling will continue and accelerate. Instead of globalisation, think ‘slowbalisation’. The war in Ukraine has driven a wedge between those, already weak, alliances. Russia, Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, India, (the BRICs+) and other countries are coming together to find ways to subjugate control over their regions and wrest control away from the US, especially in the use of payment systems in USD. The US will, of course, fight its corner, just look at its policies around the semi-conductor market which you will have read in my last E-zine ( ) What investment opportunities this will throw up is anyone’s guess, but the exportation of the US model of capitalism around the world, will slow and this could throw up new investment opportunities in new companies further afield.

BUMPY ENERGY TRANSITION. We are only going one way with energy policy, and that is more towards sustainable energy production; but, if you think we will be switching off the oil taps and shutting down the coal fields overnight, as many Eco groups would wish for, you will be very disappointed. (I will place a bet that in 20 years we are still using the same amount of oil as we are today, but that’s just a personal hunch. A lot of electric cars are going to need a lot of electrical energy from somewhere). A transition will happen but technology and storage of energy will need to improve, solar and wind power will just not make up our energy needs.

In addition, a little known point about the resources required for a sustainable energy transition: China dominates!

clean energy

So, whilst the US imposes sanctions on China in the access to and production of semi conductors, China could retaliate with sanctions on the west regarding access to the materials needed to transition to our green economies. Yet, China needs to import 70% of its food from abroad as it is not able to produce enough to feed its population. The US is the biggest producer of agricultural products. So, from a bumpy energy transition we revert back to point 2, The Changing World Order. It will be an interesting time ahead for global politics.

TECHNOLOGICAL REVOLUTION. We have already seen so much revolution in this space since the year of my birth 1974 but the future will accelerate things even more. From next level automation in industry and daily life, 3D and 4D printing will become more the norm (I went to a fayre in Villa Borghese in Rome last Sunday and one stall was 3D printing some items on a wooden work bench) with the launch of 5G we will become even more interconnected, more reliance will be placed on cloud computing and storage of data, next-gen quantum computers, AI and controlled devices, cryptocurrencies, wearable devices…the list goes on.

And if that is not enough to scare you then check out the company recently purchased by Microsoft called ChatGPT. This is a learning AI application which can do just about whatever you want it to do. Think of it as an Alexa x 1milllion! It can provide you with any amount of information you need, ‘write newsletters’ – you just give it a subject and in seconds it will provide you with a written text on a certain subject, do maths, solve problems, write a website for you, some students are even using it to write essays at University. The scary thing is that it learns as it goes. Anyway, you don’t have to worry about my E-zine being written by ChatGPT; I don’t even think the best learned AI could imitate my crazy style.

And more food for thought
Rob Gordon (US citizen) from Dreihaus/VAM Investment funds thinks that Trump will win the Republican nomination again. But he thinks that Jo Biden, at 81 years of age when the election comes around, will win against Trump again.

David Coombes from Rathbones Inv Managers thinks that GBP will drift back into the range of 1.25/1.30 against the Euro within the next 3 to 4 years .

Lessons learned

Lessons learned from this conference

This might sound like a sales pitch: something I try to avoid in this E-zines as they are written for information purposes only. However, whilst listening to our various speakers I became overwhelmed at just how complicated the world is becoming from a political, technological, economic and investment perspective. We can no longer ‘pick a stock’ and expect it will do well. Thought and research needs to be behind investment decisions. It’s easy to think that we can invest ourselves, be successful and then years like 2022 come along and there is nowhere to hide: stocks and bonds prices fall together, and then the only safe space is in some highly volatile areas of the commodity sector, which you wouldn’t normally play in. We need professional help and guidance to help us navigate these choppy waters head, but when there are so many changes afoot, it throws up the best investment opportunities. The investment managers and companies we use and talk to regularly are on top of these trends and can help you, our client, to get the best from your investments. The lesson learned from this conference: you are in good hands.

As always, if you have any questions about this E-zine or have any general financial planning concerns as a resident in Italy, or someone who is thinking of moving to Italy, then don’t hesitate to get in touch on email: or on cell: +39 3336492356

Will China invade Taiwan?

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Italy
This article is published on: 23rd December 2022


Well, it’s nearly that time of year again and I thought I would subject you to a last dose of Gareth’s musings before the year closes. 

They say that the years pass more quickly the older you get, but I am not sure just how much quicker they can fly by based on how this one has zipped by.   

I saw a great post on Facebook just the other day saying just how much we all seem to have pushed ourselves in the last year, maybe from the fear of being in a lockdown again or just making up for 2 years of lost time.  Whatever, the reason, I find myself guilty of having packed a lot of activities into 2022 and Christmas has not just crept up on me but arrived like a Japanese bullet train.   
Regarding my work, more than anything this year it has been marred with genuine concerns and worries about the state of the world, war/s, the impact of rising prices and general concerns about finances.   I have been trying to make sense of it all myself by reading articles and books, which I would not normally have chosen.   I just thought I needed to challenge some of my preconceived ideas.    I found this to be a really good exercise and ,in some ways, has helped to calm me down as I can see a little bit more clearly, the ‘why’ things are happening, although I am lacking the ‘where’ (are we going from here) just like everyone else.   However, understanding a little more about how we got here has helped me lean into the volatility and uncertainty with more confidence. 
Will China invade Taiwan

So, it is with this in mind that I thought I would write something nice and Christmassy for you: Why it’s unlikely that China will invade Taiwan… least for the foreseeable future! What more could put our minds at rest this Christmas than a rational argument as to why China is unlikely to start another war in 2023 just when we have plenty of others to contend with.

OK, it doesn’t necessarily have a festive feel to it, I understand that, but I bought a book this year written by Louis-Vincent Gave who is one part of a company called Gavekal. They provide very high level statistical, political and economic analysis to businesses and governments around the world. They are quite famous in this area and their work is exceptional. The book is entitled ‘Avoiding the Punch: Investing in uncertain times‘. In it there is a section on exactly why China is unlikely to invade Taiwan, at least for now. Since this was a concern expressed by more than just a few clients this year (presumably given our Western media tendency to constantly be baiting us into believing that it is imminent),I thought it might make a nice E-zine to finish the year and give us some hope for 2023. As they say, knowledge is power…and I would add less angst!!! :0)

semi conductors

It’s all about semiconductors.
Yes, the whole business of China invading Taiwan and the USA threatening to protect the island, whatever it takes, is all about semiconductors but if, like me, you are wondering exactly what we use semiconductors for, the following should give you a quick answer:

Semiconductors are an essential component of electronic devices, enabling advances in communications, computing, healthcare, military systems, transportation, clean energy, and countless other applications.

In essence, they are now used in almost everything that we ‘need’ to run our daily lives. From your phone to computer to thermostat, clocks, TV’s, machinery in factories, the MRI machine at the hospital, wind turbines etc. We can’t live without them. So, for any nation state it is important to have access to the companies, and countries, that monopolise the manufacture of them.

Control of the market in chip making has for a long time been monopolised by the USA through the tech firm Intel. But, in July 2020, the US were taken aback when Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) announced that they had technologically leapfrogged Intel in the business of high-end chip making.

(The USA started a trade war with China over semiconductors in 2017/18 when they placed restrictions on the export of semiconductors to Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese companies which brought those companies to their knees).

When we were friends

However, like all fairy tales, there once was a time when the USA and China sort of got along with one another.  The days when Taiwan made those nice little plastic toys and bicycles that they would export into the West, and no one felt threatened.   However fast forward to today and they are now arch enemies just at the time when Taiwan has now surpassed Intel to become the No 1 producer of the world’s most important commodity. 

So, the real battle ground is not Taiwan itself (which interestingly, the USA recognises Taiwan is a part of China, but does not recognise China’s sovereignty over the island) but for the control and continued access to the global semiconductor market. 

3 reasons why China are unlikely to invade Taiwan
So it might not be surprising that the USA is starting to worry about semiconductor security if Taiwan were to be unified with China, but invading Taiwan would only set China back economically and the following are the 3 main reasons why it is unlikely to happen:  

1.  If China were to invade Taiwan it would surely result in Taiwan’s semiconductor  factories being damaged and/ or destroyed.  Even if China invaded by sea, Taiwan would have time to self-sabotage the factories and keep hidden any secrets in the manufacture of this precious commodity.   Since a third of China’s semiconductors are supplied by Taiwan, it would shut down China’s tech industry for which there would be no other supplier.   China has placed significant importance on the development of its tech industry as part of its growth strategy and so this would be a backward step.

2.  Military conflict with Taiwan would limit, if not cease, China’s ability to make these semiconductors at home.  Factories that produce these highly specialised chips need an investment of close to $20 billion just to be functional and most of the machinery required to make them comes from Japan, the USA, the Netherlands and South Korea.  All countries which would likely cease trading with China if it invaded Taiwan. 

3.  A lack of highly skilled labour.  It is not for want of trying but China is, not yet, a market leader in the manufacturing of high end semiconductors.   They can build the factories and buy the machinery at present, but they don’t have the skilled people who are able to operate the machines at the level that the engineers in Taiwan can.    However, if they can encourage the top Taiwanese talent in this field to move to the Chinese mainland and train Chinese engineers then China might well be on its way to being a market leader a lot quicker than we might think.  A war would likely see an exodus of this talent to either Japan or the US, and those that remained would be unlikely to want to go and work for an invading country. So, in short a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is very unlikely, until they have sufficiently developed their own semiconductor industry first and secured their own supply chain. 

Strangely, what might speed this process along (and a potential invasion of Taiwan) is America’s continued actions to strangle China out of the semiconductor’s market.  On 7th October 2022 the USA imposed new sanctions on China by restricting the supply of equipment and tools to any manufacturer of semiconductors in China.  Not only, but also any US person, green card holders and foreign national of the US are prevented from going and working in a Chinese semiconductor production facility without first obtaining a licence, therefore making it virtually impossible to do so.  (Strangling the ability for China to hire the talent to train their own engineers)

You might think this would slow China down, but it’s quite the opposite because as a result of these sanctions the Chinese government have now placed an even greater importance on the development of science and innovation in their economy.  The US sanctions have had the adverse effect of aligning Chinese business interests with the Chinese government itself.  Both are now convinced that they cannot rely on anyone but themselves and certainly must not be dependent on US (and its allies) sourced goods/materials.   Hence the Chinese government and Chinese businesses are collaborating to build domestic alternatives to imported technologies. 

The question of building a domestic semiconductor sector in China has moved from being a business decision to a matter of national security, and for businesses a matter of survival.  

So, you might be thinking what is the time line for China becoming self-sufficient in the manufacturing and technology surrounding its own domestic market for semiconductors?  The answer:  around 2030 according to various sources.  So, a Taiwan invasion, might be a few years off yet!  All the sabre rattling between the US and China is likely to be just that for some time to come. 

We can’t control people or events but we can control what we choose to think about! 
The most interesting point of this from an investor point of view is that most analysts will tell you that they see some of the best economic growth, and potentially some of the better investment returns coming from Asia  in the years ahead, driven by consumer demand in China.  So, even with any worries you may have surrounding China and its imperial intentions,  a good investment portfolio should have a reasonable allocation to China and Asia to help in the growth potential of your portfolio.  This might seem to be completely contradictory to common sense given what we see in the news, but making surely you are armed with the facts in 2023 and beyond, and not just what ‘the papers say’ is going to more important then ever for the long term protection of your money. 

If you would like to discuss this or any other subject relating to how the economic, social and political events in the years ahead might affect you and your personal financial plans, then you can contact me on or on cell +39 333 6492356

And on that happy note..

Declaring your taxes in Italy

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Italy, Tax Declarations, Tax in Italy
This article is published on: 9th November 2022


I had a nasty surprise the other day and I just had to tell you about it. I got one of those dreaded pec (posta elettronica certificata) emails with the title Agenzia delle Entrate – riscossione. They put the living fear into me and for obvious reasons. This time it was nothing significant, but still an issue relating to something my old commercialista did, or didn’t do, back in 2012, 2015 and 2017. My new commercialista has launched an investigation and hopefully we can park that particular communication in a draw somewhere, but I suspect I will end up having something to pay.

Why you should ask for a copy of your Unico!
With my horrible experience in mind, I decided to write this article where I want to just briefly touch on why you should really be asking for a copy of your Unico from your commercialista or whoever declares your taxes.

If you are unsure what an Unico is, it is merely a copy of your declared tax return pages that have been submitted to the Agenzia delle Entrate.

And will normally be about 20/30ish pages long, depending on how complex your financial affairs are.

You also want to request a copy with the receipt on the back pages, as this is confirmation that it has been lodged with the tax authorities.

That page should have a header as follows:

persone fisiche agenzia entrate 2022

Now, you may ask why I am telling you this?
In the last few years, I have widened my services to my clients to incorporate a check on their declared financial affairs in Italy, to ensure that everything is being reported correctly. I decided to do this because it had become apparent that some errors had been made by various commercialisti and the odd client had been incurring higher taxes than necessary, as a result.

Checking your tax return may seem a complicated procedure, and you may be reluctant to do so, but actually, for most of the International English-speaking community living in Italy the entries in the tax return should be relatively simple. Apart from any declaration of income, which you would find under section Quadro RN or RT for investment income, you can also check on things like your accrued medical expenses under Quadro RP.

[An interesting point about the medical expenses section is that this year my commercialista contacted me about my receipts for farmacia expenses for 2021. However, he didn’t just asked me for the scontrini, but actually sent me a screenshot from the Agenzia delle Entrate website detailing all my farmacia spending for the whole year, where I had given my tessera sanitaria, which I found quite unsettling!]

The main sections that I would suggest that you check over are Quadro RW and RT. These are where overseas assets, incomes and capital gains have to be declared. These include properties, portfolios, bank accounts and other overseas assets, such as art or vintage cars, for example. These are the sections where I find the most errors. It might be that the market value of a property has been reported instead of a purchase value or local authority value or they have misunderstood the nature of a pension and declared it as an investment portfolio.

Also, remember when checking these figures that they must be converted into EUR from the foreign currencies in which you may have an asset. To do this you need the exchange rate for your respective currency. The Agenzia delle Entrate publishes those conversion rates and where valuations have been provided for the 31st December, for example, then you would need to use the declared rates from the Agenzia delle Entrate for that month. The link below takes you to the AdE provvedimento for Dec 2021 that provides exchange rates on all world currencies.

In more recent years, where I have started working with commercialisti more closely for my clients, I have managed to iron out these problems and, in most cases, a good commercialista will be happy to learn the nature of an overseas asset and ensure it is declared correctly. However, there are still instances where mistakes can be made.

In brief, I would advise you to request a copy of your Unico for the last financial year. A good commercialista shouldn’t be worried about providing you with a copy. There shouldn’t be anything to hide if they have done it all correctly. You can also download this directly from the Agenzia delle Entrate (AdE) website. If you have not already done so, you can request access details to register with the AdE from a local office, and then create your access point. If you have a SPID (Sistema Pubblico di identità Digitale) you can access the website using this means, which is much easier. You want to find section Cassetto Fiscale > Dichiarazioni Fiscali.

Do a check of your declared financial position! There is unlikely to be anything wrong in most cases, but you may just be the one who is paying more than you need to because of an incorrect code or misplaced figure. Do not leave the exclusive responsibility of your finances in the hands of your commercialista or fiscalista and if you are unsure of how to interpret the data in there then you can always ask for my help by contacting me on: or call/whatsapp on +39 3336492356

Bonus and Superbonus Edilizia

Bonus and Superbonus Edilizia
I have been asked a number of times recently about whether I think the new Italian government will stop the current range of bonuses for doing work on your property and/or upgrading your white ‘elettrodomestici‘ goods. Well, I had written a long article explaining the hypothetical new arrangements that could be announced to begin in 2023, only to be usurped by the Italian government which have now announced how things will change for 2023, as I explain below.

My thinking has always been that they are likely start to phase the bonuses out rather than cull them altogether. But, I can’t see a long-term sustainable economic plan for the country with continued ‘Bonus Edilizia‘ at the current levels, particularly the 110% bonus.

Under the legislation brought in by Draghi the 110% Bonus would have been in place for the whole of 2023, after which it would fall to 70% in 2024 and 65% in 2025. For ‘ville‘ and properties which are classified as ‘unifamiliare‘ the bonus would only be available until the end of 2022. But this is Draghi legislation. He has now gone and the new administration want to put their stamp on things, hence the revised measures coming into force from Jan 2023.

So, the new measures announced last week are as follows:
1. The superbonus will be reduced from 110% to 90% from the 1st Jan 2023 for all condomini (buildings with more than one property).

For ‘unifamiliare‘ properties, i.e villa’s or standalone houses, the same percentage will be offered, as long as it is used on the ‘prima casa‘. However, a new measure for ‘unifamiliare‘ properties has been added. They will now also assess the ‘reddito familigiare‘ of the occupants of the property and reduce any bonus accordingly. The maximum income and formula for the reduction in bonus have yet to be announced.

Possible reductions/removals
No mention has been made as to whether the superbonus will still be available or reduced significantly for ‘seconde case‘. The proposals for the ‘seconde case‘ could range from anywhere between 50% to 65% or a complete removal altogether.

The other notable plan is that the Agenzia delle Entrate have been given more powers to ramp up the controls and investigations for bonuses. More paperwork requirements are expected to be demanded to ensure that the monies for the work end up in the hands of the people actually doing the work, at a fair price and not artificially hiked to exploit the bonus regime.

As for all the other bonuses for electric white goods, etc. It looks like they will be here to stay for the coming year/s, at the very least. (Ecobonus, Sismabonus, Bonus mobili e elettrodomestici, Bonus Verde, Bonus idrico, Bonus acqua potabile, Bonus Facciate, Bonus ristrutturazione, Bonus restauro, Bonus prima casa under 36, Bonus affitti giovani under 31)

The final details have not yet been ironed out and knowing the normal process for the Legge di Bilancio we may not know the final details until after the 1st Jan 2023.

Since the superbonus scheme started the Italian government have now paid (or are awaiting payment) of €51 billion of tax rebates. The objective is to reduce that to €31 billion for the period between 2023 and 2028.

For anyone looking to apply for the ‘Bonus Edilizia‘ right now, my suggestion would be to get your requests in and push the people who are making the application on your behalf to make sure that you qualify for the current bonus amounts. If not, you may find the amount you get back is lower than you had expected.

Have you made your ‘Folder’ ?

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Italy
This article is published on: 6th November 2022


I prefer to start an article on a positive note but unfortunately have to start with a sad event that happened recently in our lives. My wife’s grandmother died on the 8th October at the ripe old age of 94. She was very ill in the end and as it has been said many a time for people in her condition, that it was a blessing in the end. However, it is obviously a sad time for the family. I will remember her fondly. I knew her for 18 years and she was a very Southern Italian ‘Mamma’ type. Always keen for you to take more food from the table (resulting in my first few years in Italy coinciding with a 5 kg weight gain – I can’t blame it on her – my ‘golosità for good food was more to blame!). She was also a great support for my wife and I when my son was born and came to live with us for a period to help out in the house and provide much needed help at a tough time for all new parents. I also had a few run-in’s with her, but nothing serious. All in the name of a good healthy relationship. As I said, she will be sorely missed.

But as always, when a family member dies we are left with a number of bureaucratic and administrative hurdles which need to be dealt with. In Nonna’s case, there are various bank accounts, US social security and ‘succession’ issues which now have to be worked through. Hopefully it won’t be too complicated as Nonna had very little left in her name when she died.

This is not always the case and in fact my experience is that the deceased tend to leave quite a lot more bureaucratic matters than perhaps they would have wanted to, and certainly than the remaining family members would have wished for. But, we can make some preparations, in life, for the ‘inevitable’ and leave the best parting ‘gift’ possible for the remaining family members.

The following article is one which I wrote first back in April 2018 ( and since then I have shared it again on a few occasions. It seems appropriate to share it again with you now, especially since we are 4 years on since that date, we have all lived through Covid and faced with some interesting times ahead, so it would seem. (I have also made some updates to the original article to take account of changing technological developments). I hope you find it useful.

This type of article is never an easy one to write. Ensuring that your papers are in order in the event of your sudden death is incredibly important when living in another country. It will provide you with peace of mind that your loved ones will not have too much difficulty in administering your estate and your family will be eternally thankful that you did it for them.

The big problem is that as ‘stranieri’ we often have documents spread across multiple locations. The office, a house in another country, with family members and in that old box that no-one dares look in – papers that look like they came from the Victorian age in alot of cases. But whose job will it be to track all those down?

The purpose of this article is to outline a proven way of organizing ‘THE’ folder to minimise problems in the event of your death.

have you made your folder

So what is ‘THE’ folder?
It is a single file (digital or physical – preferably both) where you keep all of your important personal and financial information together. It allows easy access to these documents in the event that you’re no longer around to help. It is really important to have it in place especially where one family member takes the lead with the family finances (typically one member of the household tends to dominate over money matters, but with the advent of shared technologies it is becoming more common to find that 2 or more family members are involved in the household finances). This includes paying bills, managing accounts and storing documents.

Is it worth the effort?
Yes, yes yes and yes. A time of loss can be stressful enough without having to try and piece together the deceased’s financial affairs. This can be a really difficult time. Don’t underestimate the kind of favour you will be doing to the executors of your estate if you have one place with all your financial and legal documents in an easy to understand format. You may not be around to hear their appreciation, but I can tell you, from experience, it will be eternal.

However, preparing ‘THE’ folder is much more than avoiding stress; if you leave behind an administrative nightmare you could delay access to inheritors’ access to funds and potentially cost a small fortune in legal fees.

According to an Independent financial adviser website in the UK ( – what is the probate process) the average time for probate to get settled is between 9 months and a year. In the USA the average time is also about a year. I also spoke to someone recently who confirmed that in their case it took over 1 year to deal with their parents’ estate.

So which is best…..physical or digital?
This comes down to personal preference, but I would always recommend both. Whether you choose to have a digital folder with all these documents in or not, you should at the very least have your documents scanned in case of fire or theft, and quite often companies will now accept scanned copies of documents instead of hard copies, if they can be certified or electronically signed.

With a digital file you can give access to a trusted individual who can access it in the event of your death. (Remember they will also get access during your life, so ensure they are a ‘trusted’ individual) A google file, for example, can be updated over time and which you and a family member have shared access to. This file can then be stored on your main computer, in the cloud or on an external hard drive. You can use a physical folder to keep all the same information together.

For what it’s worth, I decided to do both when building mine because my wife prefers paper and so is happier with hard copies of everything. I prefer digital. I have also shared the digital folder with some trusted family members.

What goes in The folder

So what should go in ‘THE’ folder?

Birth, marriage and divorce

  • Personal birth certificate
  • Marriage licence
  • Divorce papers
  • Birth certificate / adoption papers for minor children

Life insurance and retirement

  • Life insurance policy documents, including beneficiary nomination forms.
  • Details of any employer death in service benefits
  • Personal pension documents (including any beneficiary nomination forms)
  • Occupational / Final Salary pension details
  • Annuity documents
  • Details of any entitlements to state pensions

Bank accounts

  • List of bank account numbers with account numbers, login details and passwords
  • Details of any credit cards
  • Details of any safety deposit boxes

(see my comments on passwords below)


  • Property, land and cemetery deeds
  • Timeshare ownership
  • Proof of loans made
  • Vehicle ownership documents
  • Stock certificates, brokerage accounts, investment platform details and online investment account details
  • Details of holding of premium bonds, government bonds and investment bonds
  • Partnership and corporate operating/ownership agreements ( incl offshore companies)

The issue of which documents to throw away and which to keep is a common one. I always suggesting keeping everything if you are unsure
and then once a year with your financial adviser or legal professional have a clear out and keep the file tidy.


  • Mortgage details
  • Proof of debts owned

Details of gifts

  • Dates and amounts / values (potentially helpful when calculating inheritance tax liabilities

(A word of warning here! If your estate is likely to be subject to Italian succession law on your death. [This might mean that you have lived in Italy for 10 yrs + before your death, as an example], then any gifts which have not been fully notarised may still make part of your overall estate and be subject to the provisions of forced Italian succession law. i.e the donee may have to give the money back and it be distributed between the rightful heirs according to Italian law, ‘should’ the beneficiaries request the funds.

Notarising gifts would normally need to be done where the benefits outweigh the costs of the action itself.

(Bear in mind that you will need to pay the notary costs of approx 5% on the value of the gift, plus any taxes and one off fees for the gift)

Income sources

  • Making a list of all your sources of income, especially the ones which your family may not know about

Employer details

  • A copy of your most recent tax return or accounts

Monthly expenses (so they can be continued after death or accounts closed)

  • Utilities
  • Insurance
  • Rent / mortgage
  • Loans
  • Subscriptions / membership details

Email and social media account details


  • Wills / Testaments + details of the legal firm that helped create it, if relevant
  • Instruction letter
  • Trust documents
  • Burial / Cremation wishes
  • A copy of a living will, should you have ‘end of life’ instructions that you want medical professionals to be aware of should you be unable to communicate these due to severe illness or disability

Contact details

  • List of names and contacts numbers for: financial adviser, doctor, lawyer/solicitor, accountant, insurance broker etc
time for a review

How often should ‘THE’ folder be reviewed?
Firstly, it is sensible to note the date that it was last reviewed so that anyone using it has an idea of how up-to-date the details are.

Going forward, reviewing the file on an annual basis should be sufficient.

Online passwords
The issue of passwords has become infinitely more complicated in recent years because everything we access these days requires a password and it would be a full time job to document these and then keep them updated every time that one needed changing. There are now various Password Manager applications that you can buy to securely hold all your passwords. You can find some of the best HERE. However, if you are reluctant to use technology, which let’s face it could be hacked, then you are left needing to log all those passwords the old way…..writing them down!

And finally…
Be sure to tell someone about it. There is little point going to the effort of creating such a folder if know one knows of its existence or where to find it.

If you need help with putting your folder together or are unsure where to start then you can contact me for help on
or on my cell at +39 333 649 2356

Italian financial update

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Bitcoin, Inflation, Italy, residenza Italy
This article is published on: 1st February 2022


Well, well, what a start to the year – it feels like a repeat of winter 2021.  As I write I am actually down with Covid again.  I first got it in March 2020, right at the start of the pandemic and I have it again now.  It is nothing more than a dry throat, cold like symptoms and feeling quite tired, but still it’s a bit annoying to have caught it again, although I think that given the transmissibility of Omicron it was a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ I would get it.  Anyway, I am now on day six and feel much better.  However, I have just learned that since I only tested positive on day three of my illness, I now have to do another seven days quarantine before I will get the green pass……aaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Anyway, I wasn’t writing to update you on my health, but actually to update you on the health of the financial markets at the moment and provide you with some tax updates.

For anyone who has been brave enough to look at their investment portfolio account balance in the last few weeks, you will have noticed that it has probably taken a turn for the worse.  I am not talking crash-like turn for the worse, (remember March/April 2020!) but merely correction territory.

In short, equity markets have started to pull back from their highs in 2020 and 2021.  I can’t say for sure when the correction will end, but from the information that I have been reading from various asset managers in the last few days there is confidence that markets will rebound in the first half of this year.

It is important to remember that corrections of this magnitude happen in more years than they don’t and rarely prevent equity markets from delivering positive returns during the year!

investment styles

So what is going on? 
Covid related supply problems for goods and services are the biggest concern right now, which is feeding into consumer prices: inflation (microchips, freight and energy are the biggest contributors).  I have written about this in a previous E-zine and so won’t delve into too much detail here, but inflation is likely to play a big part in discussions around financial markets in the first half of this year, even though most economic indicators are predicting a quick return to form for the second half of the year.

One of the most important points is that with rising inflation, the central banks (mainly the Fed in the USA) do not start tightening monetary policy too quickly or harshly.  There is no indication that they will take extreme measures in this regard and so companies will still have access to capital and will be able to invest.  As long as company profits continue to grow and inflation does not start to spiral out of control then there should be a rebound, probably in the first half of the year.

Of course various themes will also continue to play out during the course of the year, namely: cloud computing, green buildings and construction and digital health and wellbeing.  This provides us with well needed diversification in our portfolios.  Big tech and smaller disrupting companies across many more sectors will play a big part in returns.

Inflation will likely cause some collateral damage along the way.  Depending on how fast and high it moves, the biggest sector to be affected could be the residential housing market.  It might cause a cooling down of the price rises we have seen in recent years, or may have a more long term and severe impact.  A lot of that depends on whether this bout of inflation is ‘temporary’, and caused merely by Covid issues, or is ‘structural’ which means that it will be more bedded in for a long time.

Understanding inflation

Most of the information I am getting from money managers is that it will be temporary and that things will return to normal much quicker than we expect (think a couple of years!), but I am not so sure.  I think it may run a little longer.  But regardless of who is right, we need to protect the money that we have.  There are plenty of excellent investment opportunities out there whether we are living in an inflationary or non-inflationary environment.  The money managers we work with are on top of these and we can rely on them to seek out those returns where possible.

If you are a client then all you need to know is that we have been planning for inflationary rises for some time and so despite the current correction in investment markets, you really have nothing to worry about. 

Tax matters – ‘residenza
During my Covid days sat at home in front of the computer, I receive a lot of pop-ups from various fiscal websites and from Sole24Ore (the Italian version of the Financial Times).

One that caught my eye the other day was an amendment to decreto Dl 146/2021, which clarified the fiscal treatment of the ‘family nucleus’ (nucleo familiare) who have established their residence (residenza) in two separate comuni.

The crux of this is that the courts ruled that two family members ‘cannot’ establish their residenze and claim 2 x prima case in the same nor different comuni.

This would seem to be a simple case of trying to avoid paying IMU on second (or third etc) properties.  But the new law decreed that it would no longer be possible where members of the same family are living under the same roof.  Apparently the law had not been clear enough…. until now.

I am mentioning this change in the law because it also has implications for people who may be registered in Italy as resident but may have a spouse who is claiming residency in another country.  In my experience, the main reason for this is to try to save tax and whilst there may be some logic to it, where one member of the couple is working for a foreign company and maybe travelling to and from Italy rather than being permanently based here, it does still raise the question of how the fiscal authorities view the idea of the ‘nucleo familiare’ and what impact this has on our tax liabilities and where they lie.  If spouses are registered as living in different places then there is some legal implication of separation and to benefit from any tax breaks, separation must be legally registered somewhere! If not, then the tax authorities will generally consider you as one family living under the same roof, hence both resident in Italy.

It raises some interesting questions, but might be a useful discussion point with your commercialista if you think you might fall into that net.

New Cryptocurrency Regulations in Spain

Fiscal treatment of Bitcoin 
More and more people I meet are starting to dabble with the idea of buying some Bitcoin to add to their portfolio.  I have been an investor for a few years, but my experience is not particularly a great one.  It tends to go through phases of stratospheric prices rises and then complete collapse.  As things currently stand I don’t see much value in the application of the buy and hold investment philosophy in relation to Bitcoin.  It would appear to be something for the active trader, and then we are getting into speculative territory!

Anyway, the point of this article is to help you understand the fiscal treatment of Bitcoin in Italy, and to remind you that you will need to declare it in your tax return.

To understand the correct application for tax purposes, we need to remember that it is actually a currency and can be traded in much the same way as any other currency.  In fact, since it is a registered currency (through the blockchain) then the Italian tax authorities treat it like any other bank account you might have.  Hence, the tax treatment falls into that very simple law of €34.20 ‘bollo’ on any account that has an average annual balance of more than €5,000 in any tax year (less than €5,000, it does not need to be declared).

However, living in Italy would not be the same without some complications.  This brings us back to the article that I wrote back in April 2021 on the same issue.  Where you hold the value of Bitcoin (or any other currency) of more than €51,645.69 for a period of more than 7 days, any transfers of that currency into another from the 8th day would be considered speculative and capital gains tax would have to be calculated.

I wrote a long article on this subject, which you can read about here:

For other questions, please contact me via the form below:

A Financial adviser in Italy

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: financial adviser in Italy, Financial Planning, Italy
This article is published on: 2nd January 2022


Being an adult in the financial services business

Immediately prior to joining The Spectrum IFA Group in 2010, I was in my 30th year and wanted to take a bold new direction in life. I was working for HSBC bank in Doncaster, Northern England, at the time, and thankfully the years there were good to me.

However, some things in life seem to change the way you think, permanently. My personal experience of this was during and after my international travels (backpacking ) in 1998/99, visiting S.E. Asia, Australasia and N. America. It was an experience that just wouldn’t leave me. After having grown up in England for the first 24 years of my life, where sunshine is a rare commodity, and then spending a year and a half in sunbaked, tropical and generally sunnier climes, on my return to England I set myself a goal: within 5 years I aimed to move abroad to a sunnier/warmer country.

During those 5 years after returning I had put my time to good use. I had retrained as a fully qualified UK financial adviser, worked on the front line of a bank call centre, worked as a sales agent for an insurance company and was a successful candidate for a financial planning manager role at HSBC bank.

But now, it was about 3 months before my self-imposed 5 year deadline and I still wasn’t anywhere near meeting my objective. Then, by pure luck, by word of mouth through some family connections (sounds very Italian!) I was approached by a local UK IFA firm (also in Doncaster) to be one of their advisers and to open up their first international office in Rome.

I can tell you that I didn’t need much convincing. It would be a commission only role, which was quite frightening as there would not be a fixed regular income. However, my urge to live somewhere warmer overcame everything and I jumped at the chance.

living in italy

I had never been to Italy before, didn’t speak Italian and had no idea about the culture, quality or standard of life in the country. This was never more evident that in my first month of work in July 2004.

We were expected to dress to work, as we would in the UK, i.e. suit, shirt and tie. However, as anyone who has ever been to Rome in July will know, it is no place for a UK style heavy woollen suit, shirt and tie. In addition, I had to take public transport everywhere because I didn’t have the money to take taxis.

I still remember vividly the time when I was returning from an appointment with a 1km walk to the metro station. I was sweating so much that everyone was giving me a very wide berth. I assume that they just thought I was suffering from a deadly disease. This was my introduction to life in Italy. But I was also now experiencing the sun, beaches, mountains (I started skiing for the first time), countryside and not to forget the food! (I remember saying to my now wife when I first arrived in Italy that food was just fuel for me. That attitude soon changed when she served me my first mozzarella di bufala and introduced me to her family, who mainly originate from Southern Italy).

I lived the next 5 years in a kind of expat bubble, never making an attempt to learn the language and just focusing on my work with the same company, but at the same time becoming more disillusioned with what I saw as the future of the business and their ideas.

During those first 5 years I also split with my long term partner in the UK whom I owned a home with; never an easy thing to do. But, I also met my wife (Italian, but educated in the UK), got married in Ravello on the Amalfi coast and we tried to start a family.

Unfortunately, starting a family was not as easy as we would have liked. After a few years of trying we were told that the only route would be IVF and our hearts sank! It was a heart wrenching journey, but in the end we were lucky enough to be successful after only the second attempt (further attempts never brought more children our way) and we were blessed with a baby son.

However, as is often the case with IVF children, he was premature. Our son was born a month early, severely underweight and with serious health concerns. The next few months were some of the hardest of my life, not helped by the fact that my failure to learn the language was now coming back to haunt me. During a time when your child is at the most vulnerable point in their life, you would hope that as a parent you could communicate and understand the doctors. In my case I couldn’t and had to rely on family members to translate for me. This led to me swearing that I would never be in this situation again in Italy. The following 2 years were an eternal wall of worry, but thankfully he came through. We, my wife and I, were left with some collateral damage, but my son is now healthy and a great child. I am very proud of him.

The Spectrum IFA Group

I am not sure why, but during those 2 years, I also decided to jump ship to another company, and after 1 year with a firm which was destined to failure from the start, I ended up meeting Michael Lodhi, CEO of The Spectrum IFA Group, with a view to taking on a position in either Barcelona or Amsterdam, and travelling from Italy a few times a week.

The conversation (abbreviated here), over a meal and wine, went something like this :

ML> “Gareth, tell me about your work in Italy.”

G> “There is no infrastructure for foreigners living here, unlike France and Spain, no serious tax or financial planning service, people are looking for professionals but can’t find anyone. I think there is a business here but it will take a few years to build.”

ML> “Hmmmm…it seems like you know the market here in Italy. Why don’t you open, build and manage our first move into the Italian market?”

G> “Well that’s what I was really wanting – deal!”

And so that was my start with The Spectrum IFA Group. I now had an idea of what I wanted to build and how I wanted to do it and I had the support to do it the way I knew it should be done.

During that period, and much before, the English speaking community in Italy were mainly being contacted by cold call by firms that would trip in and out of the country to pick up a client here and there, but there was no permanent and serious presence. I had done cold calling myself in the past but I hated it as an approach to prospective clients. It is called COLD calling for a reason. So I decided to take a closer look at the stats behind it. I found (not surprisingly) that the success rate from cold calls to taking on a new client was about 1%, if you were good!

It wasn’t long after when someone challenged me about how I was going to build the business in Italy if I wasn’t going to cold call. I turned the question around and asked: if cold calling brings, let’s say, a 5% success rate and you focus on this as your main way to contact clients, what exactly do you do with the other 95% who refuse the call? I explained that this was where I would be focusing my energies, and I did.

I estimate it took me 2-3 years of holding conferences around Italy, meet-ups with anyone of interest, writing numerous articles for magazines and websites and continuing my own E-zine newsletter, doing drop in financial planning clinics, speaking with numerous commercialisti and lawyers and spending hours in the car covering 100,000s km. All the time making the commitment that unless I was doing a 2 or 3 day event then I would return home to my wife and son at the end of every day, no matter what time I got home.

I didn’t think much about it at the time, but when I look back, I realise just how much I achieved in a short space of time and boy oh boy I learned some lessons in the meantime. I often say to people who contact me with a view to moving to Italy, “you don’t need to worry about making loads of mistakes because I have made them all for you, and paid the price already. If you follow the necessary steps I have laid out, your chances of running into trouble with the tax authorities are very small indeed”. I paid dearly for not taking the right advice in my first years of incorporation in Italy, and not understanding clearly what professionals had told me.

But, after the personal and work struggles of those years, things started to get easier. My name was now being passed on to friends and family members, my online content was, and still is, being discovered and my commitment to staying away from cold calling and building a strong online presence started reaping rewards. I had finally built the foundations of the business that I had always wanted.

gareth horsfall

The following years are much like anyone else’s, I imagine, as we advance through our 30s and into our 40s. The aches after the gym visits take a little longer to go away and the now infrequent evenings out on the wine take days of detox to recover from. But the life lessons, places I have seen, people I have met, knowledge of my business and life experiences seem to, in a beautiful way, replace all those things that you can no longer do. It feels like there is a natural cycle of renewal and replacement taking place.

My life is now more Italian than I ever would have imagined. After years of making no effort to learn the language, the birth of my son and the experience with the doctors gave me the impetus to ‘get my finger out’ (as we say in Yorkshire) and learn it. Whilst I am far from fluent I can live a comfortable and enjoyable life in Italy now, and learning the language made a huge difference with building relationships and friendships.

And it goes without saying that I no longer consider ‘food as fuel’. After finding out that my wife is a terrible cook, I took on the role of cook in the house. I learnt from my Italian family and found out that I am not as bad as I had thought.

Finally, one more point is worthy of note here: the UK’s decision to leave the EU. This created a bit of an existential crisis for me. It brought into question where my heart now belonged. I had never intended to, nor ever would turn my back on the country of my birth, but the subsequent years of campaigning to protect UK citizens’ rights in Italy and the UK’s hard-line stance on exit convinced me to apply for Italian citizenship. It was awarded in 2019. I am glad I have it.

Every time I look at my passport I realise just how much I am now connected to this ‘Bel Paese’, my business and my clients who are as fortunate to also live this amazing life as I am.

Inflation in Italy

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Inflation, Italy
This article is published on: 8th December 2021


I don’t think this E-zine can go by without writing about inflation and the impact that Covid has had on the rising cost of goods and services.  I don’t know about you but I am starting to see prices rise in Rome, particularly around food.  I was shocked to find pears in the supermarket at €5.49kg the other day.  Also, when I travelled to the UK at the end of October car hire prices were through the roof, partly fuelled by Brexit I imagine, but crazily expensive.  I was also talking to a friend who owns a company making the sun curtains that you see on balconies and terraces in Italian cities.  She was telling me that their raw material prices had risen 30% in the last few months. Lastly, there is the impetus of all these housing bonuses at the moment which means that both tradespeople and building materials are in short supply, and when things are in short supply, prices only go one way!

In the US there has been a lot of rhetoric about a ‘transitionary inflation’ which will pass once the world’s supply chain gets back to normal after Covid, when goods and to some degree services as well will start to circulate as they did pre-pandemic.  But, I think it is plain for all to see that this is now going to be a bit longer than we first suspected.  Even if Omicron turns out to be a much weaker variant and have very little impact on our health, government intervention in trying to stem the infection rate could mean that further travel restrictions are on the cards.

This all has the effect of making it more difficult for raw materials to find their way to factories, production of goods themselves (nothing gets made when people are at home), distribution, administration, shipping etc.   The list goes on.

When you bring everything together it means that supply side issues are likely to remain for some time and that has had an effect already. 

I was talking to someone at Prudential International last week and they were telling me that their indicators were showing a 6% inflation rate in the UK and 4% in Europe.  The general rate in the USA likely to be much higher, into double digits.

This has a serious effect on our savings and for any eagle eyed observer, you may have noticed that your government (Italy or otherwise), even faced with these inflation figures have not started to raise their central bank rates yet.  Why?

The answer is very simple.  Inflation erodes savings but it also erodes debt and since 2008, what have most governments around the world been creating copious amounts of? ….you got it, debt!  So, if they can hold interest rates low for as long as possible, whilst getting a 6% annualised reduction in their debt, then that is good for them.  But it is horrendous for savers and people on fixed incomes!  

Understanding inflation

I always give the example of a table that is worth €1000 today.  At a 6% annual inflation rate it will cost €1060 next year.  If my savings have been squandering away in a bank account at 0.5% interest, then my €1000 is now worth only €1005.  My money is no longer worth what it was last year and my ability to purchase the same amount of goods and services has diminished considerably.  Imagine if that were not a table but a prescription drug?

Inflation is a serious issue for many people and there is a simple way to calculate the compounding effect of this over time: The Rule of 72.  Simply divide 72 by the rate of inflation and you will find out how many years it will take to halve the value of your savings.  At 6%, your €1000 will be worth €500 in just 12 years.  Frightening given how quickly inflation can take off and difficult it can be to bring it under control.

Don’t get caught out!  Where you can, invest for the long term.  I understand it comes with risks, but the long term risk of not having enough money to pay for a retirement, schooling for children, or even healthcare expenses is significantly more problematic.

And on that happy note, I am going to leave you for this E-zine.  I am sure that you are all now starting to think about your 2022 tax return and how you can use those €s worth of tax savings!   But, before you do that, run out and order your turkey before the prices rise too high.

As always, if you would like to speak to me about any of these issues you can contact me on or message/phone me on my cell +39 3336492356.