The new tax amnesty recently enacted by the Italian parliament took effect on Sept. 15. Taxpayers have time until April 15, 2010 to apply.

The amnesty applies to individuals and pass through entities which held undeclared foreign accounts and investments outside of Italy as of December 31, 2008.

Taxpayers can declare (and leave abroad) or repatriate the foreign accounts and investments and avoid any applicable tax and civil penalties by paying a tax at a flat rate of 5% on the amount of the reported foreign accounts or investments.

To apply for the amnesty, taxpayers shall file a form with a bank or other Italian qualified financial intermediary, on which they will report the assets that they want to declare or repatriate. The bank or financial intermediary, in turn, will file the form with the payment of the tax with the tax administration. The form does not contain any personal information on the filing taxpayer. Therefore, the amnesty is completely anonymous. 

Any future audits on the amounts that are reported on the form is not allowed and administrative penalties for the violation of the rules on reporting cross-border transfer of assets and foreign investments are permanently forgiven.   

Similar amnesties enacted in 2001 and 2003 generated a repatriation of 59.8 and 14.9 billion euros, with a tax revenue of 1,4 and 0.6 billion euro (at 2.5 and 4% tax rate), with 56 and 51% of the declared money coming from Switzerland. The estimated amount of declared or repatriated foreign assets that is expected from the new amnesty is 60-90 billion euro with a tax revenue of 3-45 billion euros.