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Do you have non-euro based cash deposits?

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Italy
This article is published on: 29th April 2021

29.04.21

Inspiration for this article came from a client (they often do) who fell into one of those sneaky little finance laws in Italy that not many know about, nor really pay much attention to, including the Agenzia delle Entrate (AdE) so it would seem.

However, laws are laws and as I have written many times before, the rollout of the Common Reporting Standard in 2016: the international accord to share financial and tax information between different countries is appearing more and more on my radar. I now get a steady stream of people who say they have received a letter from the AdE asking them to declare their financial position regarding assets/monies held abroad.

In the case of the subject of this article, this is not a law which has, as yet, been specifically identified by the AdE, but one might argue it is only a matter of time.

Non-EUR based cash deposits

€51645,69 or 1 million lira

The figure quoted above is important in relation to how much money you hold in deposits in foreign currencies (cumulatively) at any one time.

There is a part of the Italian tax law (L’art.67, comma 1-ter del Tuir) relating to the application of capital gains taxes and capital losses, which would appear to be little understood by most.

The law states that where you hold over €51645,69, (1 million lira equivalent) cumulatively, in foreign currency accounts (non EUR) for a ‘period of over 7 days‘, then when you transfer any of that money into EUR (or another currency), the amount exchanged is automatically subject to the calculation of capital gains tax (or losses) in Italy, because the transaction of changing money from one currency to another itself, is assumed, after 7 days of the money being held in deposit, to be a speculative transaction as the result of a ‘trading operation’ instead of merely a conversion of currency for any other means.

How do I calculate my gains?

This is where it gets a bit complicated as you might imagine and is not quite as simple as the image above would make you believe.

Without wishing to go into too much detail in this E-zine, you take the amount of euros (or other currency) that you end up with in your account ‘after exchange’, but then need to refer to a EUR cost of those monies at the time at which you originally received that foreign currency. You convert that sum into EUR using the Banca D’Italia exchange rate on the specific date or dates when they landed in your account, depending on whether you received the funds in one go or if they were accumulated over time.

As you might imagine this could be hellishly complicated if you have been receiving monies in from various sources over a period of time. However, reference would have to be made to each deposit in non-EUR currency, and a EUR equivalent calculated on the day when it was deposited in the account. In the case where deposits are not documented, for whatever reason, then the Agenzia delle Entrate will refer to the worst monthly conversion rate to EUR for that said currency, in the tax period in which the liability arises (i.e. calendar year). This could work in your favour in some cases, and create additional tax liabilities in others, so care needs to be taken.

Finally, if you do not convert all the funds in your foreign currency account into EUR then the ‘last in first out’ principle applies. This means you must refer to the latest deposit/s in any of your foreign currency accounts, which equate to the sum which you have exchanged to EUR or other currency, and use the Euro conversion value on the date that those funds arrived in your account.

Sound complicated?

It is!

The client I referred to at the start of this email was pulled up by her bank because the bank itself, Fineco, is Italian, and therefore where they see or suspect a specific activity they must warn the client that they need to take remedial action (in this specific tax case it is the declaration on the Modello 770).

In truth, a lot of you are using various currency exchange services, the most recent being Wise (ex-Transferwise). They are not an Italian institution and therefore are not obligated to tell you about this law, should it apply to you. The onus is on you to ensure that you make your tax declarations correctly and timely. However, without working knowledge of laws such as this one, then it is unlikely that you are going to do what you are supposed to do unless advised by someone like myself, or your commercialista highlights the fact to you.

I hold more than €51645,69 in non-Euro deposits – what do I do now?
Before we start worrying about any capital gains tax or losses, there is the usual requirement to ensure that any foreign currency accounts are declared in your tax return every year and you pay the €34.20 ‘bollo’ per account.

In addition, we have this extra requirement that if you do hold ‘more than‘ €51645,69 in foreign currency deposits in any one calendar year, you are a resident in Italy, and have held the funds on cash deposit for more than 7 days, and exchange some of that deposited money into another currency (euro or any other) then you have an obligation to calculate any potential profit/loss as a result of the exchange.

To avoid this law the simple answer is to bring the euro value of your foreign currency deposits under this €51645,69 and ensure they stay under every year.

If you are potentially in this situation then it might simply mean looking at your overall financial planning and whether you a) need to keep high deposits and b) seeing if you can find alternatives, such as money market accounts or low risk investments, whilst meeting any shorter term cash requirements that you may have.

Do you have overseas assets and are living in Italy?

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Italy
This article is published on: 11th February 2021

11.02.21
Lazio zona gialla

I thought I would write about the colour yellow in this E-zine.

I never knew how much I liked the colour yellow. It had never really come on my radar until Lazio moved into ‘zona gialla’ again on the 1st February.

This lockdown has been quite challenging in many ways but it has really made me appreciate the small things which enrich our daily/weekly/monthly lives and break the daily monotony. For me, it’s those meals out with family, friends and clients, those mid-week trips to the cinema to see a film that has been newly released or a special theatre trip because some performing artists are in town. And I have to admit (I never thought I would ever write this) that I actually miss those kids parties when the parents lurk around at the back of the room talking and the fathers sneak off to have a beer or a glass of wine (or 2). Oh, and not forgetting those little trips, overseas or in Italy, that have been off the table now for sometime, but are the icing on the cake of life. I long for the day when I can make, even short trips away, with the family and friends again.

What’s New

Anyway, enough of my Covid colour thinking.

Well, if you have missed it, there is a new technocrat government in Italy. This time under the supervision of Mario Draghi. For anyone who is unfamiliar with Mario Draghi, he is the last ex-President of the EU Central Bank, previous head of the Bank of Italy, previous economist for Goldman Sachs and has also worked at the World Bank. If you are interested, he also has a house somewhere near Citta delle Pieve, Umbria.

What’s interesting about this appointment is that he was the man who pretty much stopped the EU crisis of 2012, merely by announcing that the ‘Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. And believe me, it will be enough’. With those words he stopped the attack on Spanish and Italian government debt, being launched at the time by the worlds financiers, and prevented a complete meltdown when Greece was also in fear of default.

There is no doubt that ‘Super Mario’ (his other widely known name) is a very adept politician and economist who has the ability and knowledge to get Italy out of it’s current predicament, as a result of Covid.

It was Matteo Renzi who pulled out of the coalition which was keeping Giuseppe Conte in power and managing the Covid crisis, but Renzi being a ‘supposed’ pro-business politician didn’t think that Conte had the ability to manage the €266 billion Recovery fund which is shortly arriving from the EU, and which will be used to help rebuild the economy. I happen to agree (although I think Conte has done a good job of managing the pandemic in Italy) and also believe that Mario Draghi is probably the best person for the job.

However, to what extent he will be prevented from doing so by the warring parties is anyone’s guess. He is a no nonsense economist/politican and has already made it clear that he wants to surround himself with capable people, and not politicans who are looking to advance themselves or their parties.

I suspect he will get some new and interesting projects approved by Parliament, but like the technocrats before him (Letta and Monti), will eventually be stopped by the other political parties who will want to merely push their own agenda and take power.

But, let’s not take this step for granted because if Mario Draghi is given enough leash to enact some serious recovery plans, and real effects can be seen, then they may give him more leash than we might expect.

My thinking is that alot of the burden will now be placed on his shoulders, and should he be able to magic the economic bunny out of the crumbling Italian economy top hat then the other political parties will quickly amass like children around a fresh birthday cake, to benefit from his good work and look to ultimately grasp power and take all the credit.

It’s all to play for. I shall be watching this one carefully. I think like most of us who have been living in Italy for quite some time, we really hope that something significant happens because we see so much potential for change.

UK Offshore territories

UK Offshore territories
For anyone holding money in the UK offshore territories: Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands etc, you should be aware that the EU voted to put these territories back on the EU black list as of the 1st February 2021.

www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/22/meps-vote-to-add-channel-and-british-virgin-islands-to-tax-haven-blacklist

I suspected that this would be the case once the UK lost its protected status in Brussels and these territories, which depend on the UK, have been now put back on the EU’s black list. Essentially this means that they do not share adequate financial information and lack sufficient fiscal transparency. By keeping arrangements in these jurisidctions you will be subjecting yourself to punitive tax rates as a resident in Italy.

If in any doubt then you can always contact me on +39 3336492356 or on email gareth.horsfall@spectrum-ifa.com

Agenzia delle Entrate

Letters from the Agenzia delle Entrate
Someone forwarded me a forum discussion chat the other day which was discussing the fact that British citizens around Italy were receiving letters from the Agenzia delle Entrate and being targeted in a campaign for undeclared finances.

Firstly, I should say that I do not have any insight into what the Agenzia delle Entrate (AdE) is doing or thinking, but can only hypothese based on past experience.

One thing I think it is fair to say is that I don’t think that the AdE is actually targeting British citizens living in Italy as a result of Brexit. What is more likely the case is that the AdE are doing what they do most years, at the start of the year, and send out standardised letters to foreign citizens resident in Italy with the hope that they will pick up somebody who has undeclared income/assets and/or gains.

I myself have received 2 of these letters in the past. The first proved to be a mistake, the second however, put me in such a panic that I went back over my finances for the previous year with a fine toothcomb and realised I had mistakenly failed to declare a small dividend payment in the UK, but it should be said that there was no mention of this error on their letter. The letter itself was a standard letter merely saying that as a result of information gained from the exchange of information between tax authorities, it was ‘believed’ that I may have undeclared assets/incomes and/or gains and that I needed to regualrise my affairs. It was enough to make me look back over everything and get everything ‘in regola’ .
I know that in the last few years the Italian authorities have become more sophisticated with the information that they have received and so should you receive a letter with specific figures mentioned, then I think it is fair to say that you have been caught and you will have to provide the information requested. It would also make sense to get a commercialista to help submit the information and negotiate with them on your behalf, if required.

However, if you receive the generic letter then it could just be that they are on a ‘fishing’ mission. Setting a cat amongst the pigeons, pick one off and the rest become so much more wary. In my opinion, any letter from the Agenzia delle Entrate should not be ignored. It could certainly be the case that they are party to information which has been shared by tax authorities in other countries where you hold assets and so to ignore such a communication could land you in very hot water indeed.

My simple message for anyone, to prevent ever receiving a letter from the Agenzia delle Entrate is

‘If in doubt, declare the account’
(And don’t forget your other worldwide assets/gains and income too)

tax in italy

Imposte and Tasse
Do you know the difference bettwen your ‘imposte’ and your ‘tasse’?’. In English they are both taxes, but in Italian they have different meanings and so it is probably a good idea to understand what the difference is.

Tasse are taxes which are collected to fund a specific part of the Italian state. A good example is TARI (Tariffa sui Rifuiti) or even airport taxes. They are collected for the purpose of funding a specific part of the Italian state infrastructure.

Imposte,on the other hand, are generic taxes which are charged but which have no specific objective in mind, other than to fund the ongoing cost of the Italian state. These would include things like IRPEF (income taxes) IVAFE (wealth taxes) and IVIE (a tax on property).

So, the next time you have a chat with your commercialista, or when you are chatting in the bar about how much we have to pay in taxes in Italy, you can make sure that you use the right terminology for the correct type of of tax!

Do you have investments in the UK?

By Andrew Lawford - Topics: Investments, Italy, Tax in Italy
This article is published on: 4th February 2021

04.02.21

Time for a closer look at foreign portfolios

In one of my articles last year I looked into the complexity of the taxation regime for the various types of investment income that can arise for an Italian resident. I would suggest that you read that article, or at least its section on funds, as background before continuing. In this article we are going to look in greater depth at the taxation of funds, or collective investment schemes (from now on I’ll refer to these simply as “collectives”). While this may seem a somewhat dry topic, it will be of particular concern to those who have investments in the UK, given that their tax treatment will be changing now that Brexit has come to pass. Equally, though, many people will have investments in collectives that they made in their countries of origin that do not pass muster in Italy, and these will bring less than desirable consequences from a taxation perspective.

Ufficio Complicazione Affari Semplici

Let’s first make it clear that there is nothing in Italian law that makes it illegal for an Italian resident to own certain kinds of foreign asset, but as many people find out when navigating the Italian system, the fact that you are allowed to do something doesn’t automatically mean that it will be easy. In fact, Italy has a mythical government office known as the Ufficio Complicazione Affari Semplici (the Office of Complicating Simple Matters – it even has its own Facebook page) which, if it actually existed, might well be one of the most efficient government entities in the country (I am joking, of course, but it does sometimes feel that way)!

tax in italy

Anyway, back to the main point of this article: there is an important distinction made in Italian tax law between EU domicile as against non-EU domicile for collectives.* In order to enjoy the basic 26% rate of taxation for financial income, collectives must either respect the UCITS regulations (i.e. be authorised under the EU law for collective investment undertakings), or, if non-UCITS, they must be domiciled in the EU or EEA, registered for distribution in Italy and managed by an EU licensed asset manager. These requirements will exclude almost all non-EU domiciled collectives, with UK collectives the most recent addition to the list (as from 1st January 2021). So what happens when you have invested in a collective that isn’t covered by EU rules? Any income generated will be taxed at your marginal income tax rates, which is likely to be penalising for all except those with limited incomes (the lowest income tax band is 23% in Italy).

Much has been made in the press of the fact that financial services were excluded from the Brexit agreement. Below is what this looks like in practice (the following is an excerpt from a letter sent by the fund manager Janus Henderson to investors in their UK domiciled funds):

“With effect from 1 January 2021, UK domiciled investment funds that had previously operated under the Undertakings for the Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS) regulations will cease to be classed as UCITS and will instead become “UK UCITS”. From the same date, UK domiciled Non-UCITS Retail Schemes (NURS) will cease to be classed as EU Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) and instead will be classed as third country AIFs. Any UK domiciled Janus Henderson funds that were registered for marketing purposes in any EU 27 countries will no longer be registered and marketing of the funds will therefore cease. For the avoidance of doubt our “UK UCITS” and NURS will not be registered for marketing in the EU as third country AIFs.”

Also on the list for unfavourable tax treatment you will find any non-UCITS ETFs, which would include all of those listed in the US (remember that ETFs are simply collectives that trade on a stock exchange). It will also include holdings in Investment Trusts listed in the UK. To be fair, UK Investment Trusts have always been in an unusual situation – something I found out first hand a number of years ago after holding an Investment Trust through an Italian bank. I was amazed at the paperwork that arrived at year end relating to this holding, the income from which I was obliged to put in my tax return (to be taxed at marginal rates). At the time there was also a complicated distinction made between the variation of the fund’s NAV compared with the variation of the price of the shares that I had bought and sold – although I believe that particular distortion has now been resolved for listed funds like ETFs (every now and again something slips past the Office of Complicating Simple Matters).

USA Federal Bank

What about the US?
Any American readers should be particularly concerned, because they cannot hold EU collectives due to the arcane nature of US taxation, which makes compliance difficult even for non-resident US citizens.

You are unwise to hold EU collectives from a US point of view, and unwise to hold US collectives from an Italian point of view. So what to do? Do not despair: much will depend on your individual situation, but we can often help to improve substantially the overall tax efficiency and declaration burden relating to your portfolio.

The bottom line is that you should never assume that what works well in one country will work well in another, and especially not one like Italy that has government offices specialised in complicating matters!

If you would like to discuss your own situation then please get in touch. Our aim is to simplify complicated matters as much as possible whilst making sure that your assets are well managed, with a view to the long term. In this context, avoiding unnecessary tax exposure remains a key element of most successful investment strategies. With proper guidance in the process of portfolio construction, it is entirely possible both to enhance investment returns and reduce administrative complexity.

* Normally you can tell where a collective is domiciled by looking at the first two digits of its ISIN code (ISIN stands for International Securities Identification Number, a 12 digit alphanumeric code which almost all financial instruments have): IT will identify an Italian security, GB a UK security, LU a Luxembourg security and so on.

Understanding Italian tax legislation

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Italy, Tax in Italy
This article is published on: 22nd January 2021

22.01.21

I normally like to start a new E-zine or article with a story or some kind of recent experience to try and provide context to what I am about to write. However, because of my lack of travels, I am lacking stories at the moment. In fact, I am now starting to believe that there is a government conspiracy to bore me to death, or they are in collaboration with Netflix to lobotomize me with endless series and films. Lockdown phase 2 is proving somewhat monotonous!

So, with the fact that there isn’t really much to tell you other than work related matters, then we might as well crack on, because the truth is that as a result of Brexit a number of financial things have changed. A lot of my clients are now non-EU citizens (i.e. Brits), and so a better understanding of Italian tax legislation is essential. We have done some extensive digging in this regard and our investigations have sprung up some unwelcome news for some.

The information we found was buried so deep in Italian tax law text that it took us (in reality my colleague Andrew Lawford ended up discovering it through sheer determination and persistence) quite some time to dig it up. So make sure you read the whole E-zine as something might be relevant to you.

I should add that the financial services industry is still trying to work itself out and we should remember that there is no deal for financial services as part of the Brexit trade agreement. A lot of hope is being placed on a potential trade agreement being reached on financial services by the spring, as professed by Rishi Sunak, but I have my doubts.

UK Banks closed

SO, WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS?
Let’s start with the one that got the most press leading up to Brexit. The automatic closure of UK bank accounts for EU residents.

There is not much to say here, other than the main culprits seem to be Barclays, Lloyds, Nationwide, Royal Bank of Scotland and Halifax. To date, my experience with clients is that the closure letters are a bit of a scattergun approach. Not everyone I know with an account in these banks is being approached to close it.

I am asked a lot about the possibility of using a UK address of a relative or friend and whether this would alert the bank to you living in the EU or not? The likelihood is that it will for 2 reasons. The first is that under the Common Reporting Standard (International sharing of tax and financial information) banks only need to ‘suspect’ that you are resident in another country. This might be determined from activity on your account, or other financial information that they may receive from foreign tax authorities. The second reason is that ultimately you should be asked to prove the address you provide. A simple check on the land registry can avert them to the fact that you are not the registered owner of the property. A standard requirement is to request a copy of a utility bill showing your name and address on it or some kind of official tax authority document. If you are unable to prove these, then the chances are that the banks will catch up with you sooner or later.

So, what are the alternatives? I have recommended Fineco as a good Italian bank alternative (for transparency purposes, I have been an account holder for approx 10 years) but I believe that more of you than ever are finding it easy to open and use Transferwise as a transitionary online solution. But it’s NOT a bank, so beware! There are online banks as well, such as N26 and the online offshoots of the regular Italian banks. There are certainly lots of options available although finding a non-UK alternative that will allow UK direct debit payments is pretty much impossible.

taxation on overseas rental property for Italian residents

UK PROPERTY OWNERSHIP
I have written previously about this and the increased wealth tax that will now be charged on UK property ownership for Italian residents.

To recap, in a pre-Brexit world a UK property owned by an Italian resident would have had a wealth tax charged against it each year, in Italy. The value for calculating this charge was 0.76% of the council tax value of the property. This is considerably lower than the market value in most cases. However, now that the UK has left the EU the method for calculating that wealth tax changes.

Properties that are located outside the EU are subject to the same charge, 0.76%, but in this case the valuation basis moves to the purchase/acquisition value of the property, where provable, and the market value otherwise. For most people I am finding that this is quite a difference, and for anyone who has bought in the last 10 years or so, this means a mostly, higher annual wealth tax charge. To date, I have only come across one person who retired to Italy and had retained the family property in the UK for many years, and could benefit from a very low purchase value for calculation purposes, hence a net tax benefit as a result of the tax change post Brexit. Most are going to find that their cost of holding UK property will increase as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

tax-italy-guide

TAX BREAK…
For anyone inclined to sell their UK property then we shouldn’t forget that there is the possible ‘sale-of-home’ tax break as an Italian resident. If you have owned the home for more than 5 full tax years then Italy does not consider a property sale speculative (even a property located overseas) and so no capital gains tax is charged in Italy. You may have tax applied in the country in which the property is situated, in which case you would need to check the local tax laws. In the case of the UK, a property sale as a non-UK tax resident means capital gains tax would be charged on the property, but only from the date at which the legislation was introduced: 6th April 2015. What this means is that any gains made up to that point can effectively be written off, and the cost value for the purposes of calculating the capital gain would be the value as at the 6th April 2015 or later, depending on when you bought the property. A handy tax break for anyone who has held property in the UK for more than 5 years.

UK IFA

UK IFAs
Now, we come onto the more technical points and an area which I see evolving over the coming year/years: UK IFAs (Independent Financial Advisers).

Even when the UK was inside the EU it was not uncommon for me to come across people who had existing relationships with UK based IFAs who advised them on their finances, in the same way that I do for my clients living in Italy. But, even inside the EU most firms were not licensed to work with clients who were living in an EU state (it was easy enough to check on the Financial Conduct Authority website in the UK), and even in the few limited cases where they had the licence they did not have any experience of the Italian tax and financial system, so their advice was mainly useless and normally bad for the client. However, many continued to operate regardless, protected (loosely) by being a member of the EU.

Fast forward to a post Brexit world and the fog has cleared. If you are working with a UK based IFA, and living in Italy, then you should not be receiving any advice from them. They will not have the necessary authorities or licences to operate in the EU, and as such, you as a client are not protected for any advice that they give you. This has been very clearly highlighted in a Banca D’Italia document which was released at the end of last year.

If you do work with any UK based financial professional it would be in your interests to contact them and ask if they have an EU based entity to ensure they can continue to work with you. In much the same way as the banks are pulling out of the EU (the ones that have no intention to develop or maintain their existing EU business), IFA firms (small or large) should also be doing the same.

I have to admit, that I have benefited from this because a number of UK firms with Italian resident clients have already contacted me about passing on their clients because they are no longer able to work with them. I expect this to continue as more firms understand their legal liability of working with clients in an un-licensed capacity.

If you are in this situation please speak with the firm and/or send me a message and I can help you to look into it in more detail.

investment talk

ASSET MANAGERS
This is a category, very similar to UK based IFAs. These are firms which generally manage sizeable portfolios for clients and have a direct relationship with the end client. To date there are mixed messages coming out of this sector. Some asset managers are aiming to pass EU based clients to EU based firms, like ourselves, others are clinging onto various legal loop holes to retain business. If you have a portfolio managed by a UK based asset manager directly, then the best you can do is to contact them and ask them what their post Brexit plans are. We expect that over time the EU will develop a more protectionist and hardline stance on working with non EU based firms.T his will ensure that they can more readily protect their EU residents and citizens and also win business from the UK.

Where UK asset managers are used inside Italian tax compliant accounts, in the way that we mostly structure assets for our clients, then you do not have to worry as the provider of the account will be keeping abreast of legislation as it changes.

***For all my clients, please be aware that we are on top of any changes in this regard and you do NOT need to contact your asset manager as a result of the content in this E-zine. If anything changes we will notify you as soon as we become aware. We also have contingency plans in place should any changes need to be made***

italy tax

TAX ON UK DOMICILED ASSETS
This is probably the most revealing piece of information that we have discovered, and whilst it is new for UK residents, it has always been the tax case for other non-EU Italian residents e.g. US citizens. And very important information it is as well for the holders

of UK domiciled non-property assets (excluding bank accounts).

We are not sure if most commercialisti are aware of what we discovered and so we encourage you to have a discussion with yours if you think you might be affected!

Essentially, if you hold non-EU approved investment funds in a portfolio with a bank or an asset manager, then these same assets must meet 3 simple rules for the flat 26% tax treatment for investment income and capital gains to be applied, in Italy.

1. The fund or collective investment must be established in a member state of the EU or EEA
2. It must be sold in Italy under the relevant distributions guidelines from the regulator CONSOB
3. And if you are working with someone who manages your money they need to be subject to EU authorisations in the country in which they operate from

And the important point to note is that any investment fund must be covered under all 3 criteria and not just one!

What is the consequence if your collective investments don’t meet these criteria?
Very simply all your investment income and capital gains are added up and taxed at your highest rate of income tax! They are added to all your other income for the year and taxed accordingly. For someone who is earning up to €15000pa (pensions, rental income and/or employment income) then this would be advantageous, but for any figure above then your tax rate will be higher than the 26% currently charged on the same asset.

How can you check if you have a non-EU domiciled collective investment asset?
Very simply, all securities are allocated an International Securities Number (ISIN code). You will need to check that yours starts with an EU approved code, such as IE, LU, FR, IT etc. For any UK citizen living in Italy holding securities/funds or assets, whose code starts with the letters GB, then it might be time to take another look at your financial planning as a resident to try and mitigate any future tax charges on these assets.

And that’s it for this E-zine! There are quite a few financial planning considerations to be taken into account here and so I will elaborate on them in future E-zines, but if you have any doubts as to whether any of these topics may apply to you, or want some help looking into anything, then I would suggest you get in touch using the form below.

Are you a UK IFA with Clients Living in Italy ?

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Italy, UK IFA
This article is published on: 8th January 2021

08.01.21

ARE YOU UNABLE TO SERVICE THESE CLIENTS POST BREXIT?

UK IFA

At The Spectrum IFA Group we can look after your clients long term as licensed and regulated financial advisers operating in Italy.

The things you should know before you contact us for our help:

  • We specialise in financial planning for English speaking expatriates across western Europe
  • We are locally authorised in all jurisdictions in which we operate and across the entire EU (and Switzerland). Our regulatory status is unaffected by Brexit
  • We hold financial services licenses for both insurance mediation (Insurance Distribution Directive compliant) and investment advice (MiFiD compliant)
  • Established in 2003, we have 50 advisers and 12 regional offices
  • We work only with large, well known asset managers including Blackrock, Jupiter, Fidelity and Prudential. For clients with higher value portfolios we also use discretionary investment managers such as Rathbones, Smith and Williamson and Quilter Cheviot
  • As part of our terms of business, clients of The Spectrum IFA Group receive ongoing, long term service and support. All advisers live within easy travel distance of their clients
  • We are not an offshore broker. We do not use products from UK dependant territories (such as the Isle of Man or Channel Islands) as they can produce adverse tax consequences for clients living in Europe. We advise that you don’t use any of these structures for your clients if they are EU resident
  • We use only locally compliant products which are designed specifically for the jurisdictions in which our clients are based
  • We work on a transparent charging structure with all clients. Charges are deducted directly from the products and solutions we recommend. We do not invoice separately
Why should I be wary of exchange rates?

As the end of the transition period is rapidly approaching we ask that you contact us as soon possible to allow time for us to complete any necessary restructuring of client assets.

If your clients are resident in the EU or Switzerland, or intending becoming resident, please feel free to contact us for a no obligation discussion to determine if we can look after your clients post Brexit.

You can contact me at gareth.horsfall@spectrum-ifa.com

Banks, Bonds and Badwill

By Andrew Lawford - Topics: Banking, Italy
This article is published on: 13th December 2020

13.12.20

Today I’d like to explore the topic of Italian banking consolidation – but first I’d like to mention my new podcast episode, which features an interview with entrepreneur Andrew Meo, who walks us through his experience of starting a business in Italy – Milan based Rocket Espresso www.rocket-espresso.com. Even if you have no interest in starting a business in Italy, his story is a compelling one and gives us the chance to think more deeply about the prospects for the Italian economy. Check it out on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts or Stitcher.

Now on to the banks
It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that there has recently been a new round of consolidation in the Italian banking market. It’s really no exaggeration to say that once Intesa Sanpaolo completes its takeover of UBI Banca and if, as seems likely, Unicredit ends up having the House of Horrors that is Monte dei Paschi di Siena foisted upon it (see below), that there will really only be 2 large banks in Italy. Of course, Italy has many, many banks – just look here at the list of members of Italian Banking Association, but in terms of concentration of assets, the situation is clear.*

Italian bank assets

* Please note that the Intesa – UBI takeover has yet to complete and the combination of Unicredit – MPS is currently only a rumour

Intesa, in particular, has been making the best of a bad situation over recent years, having taken on, for the sum of €1, the good parts of two failed banks from the Veneto region (Veneto Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza) in a deal that was breathtakingly good for them. Aside from being able to pick and choose only the best bits of the banks, they also received the following benefits (see the press release from June 2017):

  • A public cash contribution of €3.5bn to guarantee the stability of Intesa’s financial ratios;
  • A further public cash contribution of €1.285bn to cover “integration and rationalisation charges”;
  • Public guarantees of €1.5bn “to sterilise risks, obligations and claims” arising before the transfer to Intesa;
  • Full availability of deferred tax assets (roughly €2bn);
  • The right to give back certain higher-risk loans if these turn bad by the end of 2020

Nice work if you can get it!
The reality is that Intesa was able to call the shots in this deal, because Unicredit, the only other Italian bank theoretically able to take on the task, was still trying to sort out its own troubles with non-performing loans, having had to launch capital increases for €20bn or so in the period between 2012 – 2017 (a €13bn capital increase had just been completed at the time of the Intesa deal for the Veneto banks).

Moving on to the recent deal to acquire UBI Banca, we encounter the curious phenomenon of badwill, or “negative goodwill” as Intesa prefers to define it.

Intesa presentation

Intesa presentation re: UBI Banca acquisition – February 2020

Instinctively, we could define “goodwill” as that aspect of a business that defines the value it provides to its customers. In accounting terms, goodwill is an intangible asset that arises in an acquisition when the price paid is greater than the value of the net assets received. It follows from this that “badwill” arises when you get assets of a greater value than the price paid for them. Such is the story of Italian banking (and most banks in Europe, to be fair) – their assets simply aren’t perceived as having great value. In Italy, in particular, after a long period of struggling with non-performing loans, the market is worried that a fresh batch will be showing up over the coming years once the effects of COVID support have worn off.

Moving on to Unicredit, there was some hope that under its CEO of recent years, Jean Pierre Mustier, that the bank could become an Italian champion of consolidation in Europe. In particular, Mr Mustier’s old employer, Société Générale, was floated as a potential candidate for a tie-up, and certainly a far more presentable option than that of a domestic union with Monte dei Paschi di Siena, undoubtedly the ugliest girl at the dance of Italian banking consolidation. In recent weeks, Mr Mustier has decided to hand in his resignation after clashing with his Board of Directors, so it seems only to be a question of time before the unhappy couple announces their engagement.

All of this concentration of banking assets in two main groups leads to a number of considerations. Firstly, the unhealthy connection between bank balance sheets and Italian sovereign credit risk seems to be growing. Between them, Intesa-UBI and Unicredit-MPS hold about €175bn of Italian sovereign debt (as at 30/06/2020). The banks themselves have also become so large that they might not only be “too big to fail”, but also “too big to save” – assuming that the ultimate backstop is always an implicit government guarantee.

From our perspective as depositors, whilst we wait for the proposed EDIS (European Deposit Insurance Scheme), the best we have is the Italian FITD (Fondo Interbancario di Tutela dei Depositi), which does guarantee deposits up to €100,000, but is based on a system of mutual assistance between the banks – if one of the two giants were to stumble, the system may well struggle to make good on all claims.

All this brings to mind the wisdom of the following quotation from Mark Twain:
“I’m more concerned about the return of my money
than the return on my money”

It clearly makes sense to have a bank account in Italy if you are living here, and there are some good, low cost options out there. Many of you may already have the bulk of your financial assets in Italy and some of you are probably thinking seriously about moving more funds here, given that a number of UK banks will struggle (or even refuse) to service Italian residents after Brexit. However, there are also good reasons to maintain a substantial portion of your financial assets outside of Italy, and I can help you to understand all the options and eliminate the complications that arise from the tax declarations. Please feel free to get in touch if you’d like to learn more.

And with that, the only thing left to do is wish you all a pleasant and relaxing Christmas and New Year – with any luck, 2021 will be a substantial improvement on 2020 (admittedly a low bar to jump over!).

Are you a UK IFA with Clients Living in Europe ?

By Spectrum IFA - Topics: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom
This article is published on: 17th November 2020

17.11.20

ARE YOU UNABLE TO SERVICE THESE CLIENTS POST BREXIT?

UK IFA

At The Spectrum IFA Group we can look after your clients long term as licensed and regulated financial advisers operating in France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

The things you should know before you contact us for our help:

  • We specialise in financial planning for English speaking expatriates across western Europe
  • We are locally authorised in all jurisdictions in which we operate and across the entire EU (and Switzerland). Our regulatory status is unaffected by Brexit
  • We hold financial services licenses for both insurance mediation (Insurance Distribution Directive compliant) and investment advice (MiFiD compliant)
  • Established in 2003, we have 50 advisers and 12 regional offices
  • We work only with large, well known asset managers including Blackrock, Jupiter, Fidelity and Prudential. For clients with higher value portfolios we also use discretionary investment managers such as Rathbones, Smith and Williamson and Quilter Cheviot
  • As part of our terms of business, clients of The Spectrum IFA Group receive ongoing, long term service and support. All advisers live within easy travel distance of their clients
  • We are not an offshore broker. We do not use products from UK dependant territories (such as the Isle of Man or Channel Islands) as they can produce adverse tax consequences for clients living in Europe. We advise that you don’t use any of these structures for your clients if they are EU resident
  • We use only locally compliant products which are designed specifically for the jurisdictions in which our clients are based
  • We work on a transparent charging structure with all clients. Charges are deducted directly from the products and solutions we recommend. We do not invoice separately
Why should I be wary of exchange rates?

As the end of the transition period is rapidly approaching we ask that you contact us as soon possible to allow time for us to complete any necessary restructuring of client assets.

If your clients are resident in the EU or Switzerland, or intending becoming resident, please feel free to contact us for a no obligation discussion to determine if we can look after your clients post Brexit.

You can contact us at info@spectrum-ifa.com

Or speak to the specific country managers in France, Spain or Italy

Click the relevant flag below

Financial Advisers in France
Financial Advisers in spain
Financial Advisers in Italy

Investment income taxation in Italy

By Andrew Lawford - Topics: Investment income taxation in Italy, Investments, Italy, Tax, Tax in Italy
This article is published on: 5th November 2020

05.11.20

This should be easy, shouldn’t it? Everything gets taxed at 26% – dividends, interest and capital gains. However, for anyone who has delved into the world of Italian fiscal matters, it should be obvious that the words “easy”, “taxation” and “Italy” do not belong in the same sentence.

Let’s try and examine how it all works
Basically you have two main choices: do you want to keep all of your financial assets in Italy, or will you keep some, or all, of your assets outside of Italy? While it is beyond the scope of this article to look at the solidity of the Italian economy and its financial system, you may well be reluctant, with some cause, to move all of your assets here. Maintaining assets abroad as an Italian resident can be fraught with difficulties, but careful planning can mitigate almost entirely the issues that arise. Read on for further details.

Basically you have two main choices: do you want to keep all of your financial assets in Italy, or will you keep some, or all, of your assets outside of Italy? While it is beyond the scope of this article to look at the solidity of the Italian economy and its financial system, you may well be reluctant, with some cause, to move all of your assets here. Maintaining assets abroad as an Italian resident can be fraught with difficulties, but careful planning can mitigate almost entirely the issues that arise. Read on for further details.

Assets held in Italy:
Let’s start by looking at the situation for those assets held in Italy (i.e. in an account at an Italian financial institution):

For directly-held, unmanaged investments at an Italian bank or financial intermediary, the 26% rate will apply to income flows (e.g. dividends and coupons) at the time they are received and to capital gains at the time they are realised. This system is known as regime amministrato and it is generally the default position that most people will find themselves in when they open an account in Italy, unless they opt for a discretionary asset management service (see below). Under this system, the bank or other intermediary involved makes withholding payments on the client’s behalf and no further tax is due.

You can opt out of this system and elect to make your own declarations and tax payments (regime dichiarativo), however this is likely to be a sensible option only for someone who has assets spread over a number of different banks, as it is the only way to off-set gains realised in one bank with losses realised in another. The cost of doing this is that you will have to take responsibility for the correct declaration of all your investment income, which is no easy task. It will necessitate a lot of work on your part, as well as the need to find a local tax accountant willing and able to handle this aspect of your tax return.

If you decide to use a financial adviser to help with the choice of your investments in the above context, it is worth noting that any explicit cost of the service will attract Italian VAT at 22% (and if you are not paying an explicit cost, then you should look closely at the assets you are being advised to purchase – expensive, commission-paying funds are still very much alive in the Italian market). It is not possible to deduct the advise cost from your gross results before taxation is withheld.

The weird world of fund taxation:
One of the more perverse aspects of financial income taxation in Italy is the treatment of fund investments (basically any collective investment scheme, including ETFs). These will produce what is known as reddito di capitale when they generate dividends or are sold at a profit, but a reddito diverso when sold at a loss. What this means in practical terms is that in a portfolio containing only funds, you cannot off-set losses against gains. If you do accumulate losses through selling losing investments, you will need to generate gains that can be classified as redditi diversi in order to off-set the losses. This will likely involve investments in individual stocks and bonds, which may lead to an odd portfolio construction driven by tax considerations – generally not a good basis upon which to choose one’s investments.

Let’s turn now to directly-held, managed investments held with an Italian institution. In this case, taxation of 26% will be levied annually on any positive variation in the overall account value, with no distinction being made between the various sources of the income (this is known as the regime gestito). If the account suffers an overall decrease in value in the course of a given year, this loss can be carried forward and off-set against gains recorded over the following four years. Whilst this is a relatively simple arrangement from a tax perspective, it remains inefficient in the sense that it taxes you on unrealised returns (although at least the return is taxed net of fees).

It is worth noting that the asset management fees charged on this type of service attract Italian VAT at 22%, so an agreed cost of 1% per annum becomes a 1.22% cost for the client. Italian institutions will also generally favour investments in their “in house” managed funds, even when better (and cheaper) investments are available.

Assets held outside of Italy:
There is nothing to prevent you from holding assets outside of Italy, but you do need to go into such a situation with your eyes open. You will find yourself essentially in the same situation as the person who opts for the regime dichiarativo which I described above, together with the added aggravation of having to comply with the foreign asset declaration requirements (Quadro RW), which mean that you have to declare not only the income you derive from your financial assets, but also their value and any changes in their composition from year to year. If you’d like to have an idea of the complexity of making these declarations, get in touch with me and I will send you the instruction booklet for the 2020 Italian tax return (Fascicolo 2, the section which deals mostly with financial income and asset declarations, runs to 62 pages this year, and no, it is not available in English). You cannot opt to have a foreign, directly-held, discretionary managed account taxed as per the regime gestito above, because this is only possible for accounts held with Italian financial institutions. This means that any account will have to be broken down into its constituent elements and the tax calculated appropriately. Please also note that accounts which enjoy preferential tax treatment in a foreign jurisdiction will generally not carry any such benefits for an Italian resident.

Italian-compliant tax wrappers:
There is a solution which allows you to maintain foreign assets whilst removing 99% of the hassle described above. This involves using an Italian-compliant life insurance wrapper, issued from an EU jurisdiction. There are a number of other important benefits that accrue to this type of solution for an Italian resident, the two main ones being deferral of taxation until withdrawals are made (or death benefits paid) and total exemption from Italian inheritance taxes. I am reluctant to present comparative numbers in an article of this sort, but it should be clear that if the investments and costs are the same under the various scenarios examined, tax deferral will lead to a higher final investment value, and so should always be the preferred solution.

tax in italy

My goal with this article hasn’t been to make your head spin (although I can understand that this might have been its effect), but instead to make it clear that even apparently simple rules can hide a web of complexity which will ultimately lead to an inefficient outcome for the unwary investor. My goal is to cut through the complexity and make your life as simple as possible, whilst giving you access to quality underlying investments. Yes, it can be done, even in Italy.

Buying Property in Italy

By Andrew Lawford - Topics: Italy
This article is published on: 15th October 2020

15.10.20

If you’re reading this, you may well already own a property in Italy – in which case, you’ll know the ropes already.

But for anyone wanting to get serious about hunting for property in Italy, my latest podcast should be of interest. We cover not only the ins and outs of property transactions, but also look at how best to approach the task of finding your Italian home.

As usual, we conduct interviews with experts who offer their unique perspectives to help you to disentangle an otherwise confusing (and potentially insidious) process.

Please click on the above links to listen

The 21st annual International Investment Awards 2020

By Spectrum IFA - Topics: Belgium, France, International Investment Awards 2020, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, The Spectrum IFA Group
This article is published on: 7th October 2020

07.10.20
Anne Ollerenshaw

International Investment announced six new categories as part of a relaunched International Investment Awards to celebrate the event’s 20th year. The II Awards are the longest-running event of their kind and this year saw a record number of categories and entries.

Of particular interest to The Spectrum IFA Group is the new category of ‘Woman of the Year’.

We are delighted to announce that our very own Director, Anne Ollerenshaw has been nominated for this coveted award due to her Anne’s long standing contributions to the industry over the past years.

The 21st annual International Investment Awards 2020 take place on Thursday 8 October at 1500 BST.

This new award for 2020 is one of the final three awards and another which was selected via a combination of judges’ comments and, by votes of the readers of International Investment.

From the shortlisted entrants below they will select two winner awards with advisers and industry leaders judged separately.

The shortlist for Woman of the Year (new for 2020) is:

• Anne Ollerenshaw, The Spectrum IFA Group

• Paris Jordan, Virtuvest

• Kim Jarvis, Canada Life Limited

• Durreen Shahnaz, Impact Investment Exchange

• Tanya McCartney, Bahamas Financial Services Board

• Aida Feriz, Wimmer Family Office

• Paule Ansoleaga Abascal, Rothschild & Co Asset Management Europe

• Michele Carby, Holborn Assets

• Jackie Evans, Holborn Assets

• Claire Walker, deVere Group

• Louise Bracken-Smith, Fairway Group

We wish Anne the very best of luck.

The virtual ceremony will be held at 1500 BST on Thursday 8 October, with a repeat showing on this site a few hours later. Make sure that you tune in to find out who has been successful at this year’s event.

International Investment Awards 2020