Overseas rental property – have you thought about this………?
By Gareth Horsfall
This article is published on: 13th May 2016
Financial markets are very quiet at the moment. From my view point the financial world appears to be almost at stand still.
The world appears to be awaiting the UK vote on whether to leave Europe or not!
In the meantime, life goes on and whilst the UK celebrates the Leicester City win of the Premier League with a Roman manager, I continue to get contacted by various people asking my opinion on how they should manage their finances as residents and non residents in Italy. The majority of those people also have rental property in their home country as part of their overall financial arrangements.
A review of taxation on overseas rental property for Italian residents
The most common question I am asked is how income from property held overseas is taxed in Italy. Is it exempt from Italian tax because tax has been paid on it overseas first and is it subject to the same taxes as Italian domestic rental income?
I would like to dispel any myths and confirm that, as a resident in Italy, you do have to pay Italian tax on the profit from any rental income on properties held overseas.
The law for Italian tax residents clearly states that the net profit (after allowable expenses in the country in which the property is located) must be declared in the Italian end of year tax return. The net profit is then assessed as income by adding it to the rest of your income for the year and then tax paid at your highest rate of income tax in Italy (that could be as high as 43% depending on your cumulative income for the year).
Let’s not forget the IVIE tax as well which is 0.76% of the property council/cadastrale/rateable value (or whatever you choose to call it) of the property.
If tax has been applied in the country of origin, this can be reclaimed through your tax return. You are protected through a double taxation treaty as long as your country of origin has signed one with Italy.
To clarify, any rental income from properties held overseas must be declared in Italy. This is the NET income (after allowable expenses) and this net figure is added to your other income to determine at which rate of income tax it is assessed in Italy.
But wait a minute. Have you thought about this?
Now, this is all well and good but as most landlords of properties overseas discover, if they are relying on the income from the property to live on then any income benefit can quickly be diminished by additional tax to be paid in Italy.
Do you have useful relatives?
Do you have trustworthy relatives/family members in the country where the property is located? If so, then you might think about gifting the property to them (effectively signing it over to them) and getting them to send the rental income to you as a gift.
The recipient of a gift is not taxable in Italy and therefore you could have a non taxable income stream
However, before you start looking to sign your properties over to family members you need to think of a number of tax consequences of doing this. Mainly the inheritance tax obligations that it imposes on your estate, any tax considerations and administrative burdens it now places on the holder of the property (they would have to be the sole recipient of the money and the sole named owner of the property). That person would have to receive the money in their accounts and submit their tax returns accordingly. They would have to send the money to you under a word of mouth agreement and you would have to trust the other party implicitly, not to mention a number of other tax questions it may pose.
However, assuming those problems could be overcome you might find that you could have the rental income from your overseas property paid to you in Italy, without detraction of Italian tax but through a gift arrangement.
Cross border financial planning at work!