In recent years the concept of ‘beneficial ownership’ has emerged as a major anti abuse rule applicable in the context of tax treaties and other important areas of international tax law. This article provides an overview of the recent interpretation and applications of the beneficial ownership rule as clarified by the OECD, pursued by tax

Italy operates specific provisions on tax treatment of trusts. Trusts formed under foreign law are recognized and enforced in Italy pursuant to the Hague Convention on Trusts dated July 1, 1985. To the extent they have Italian assets, or Italian grantor, trustees or beneficiaries or Italian source income, foreign trusts may be subject to Italy’s

The Italian Supreme Court in its Ruling 20285 dated September 4, 2013 held that an individual taxpayer claiming to have his tax residency outside of Italy had properly discharged his burden of proof and correctly established his tax residency abroad by producing copy of his residential lease, regular payments of rent and utility bills and use of personal bank account for day to day expenses, thereby proving that his actual and real residence and domicile was located in the foreign country. 

Under Italian tax law, individual tax residency is determined pursuant to highly factual tests and can be established even when there are relatively minor contacts with Italy, such as a house, frequent visits to the country, or business interests located there. Once determined, it subjects the taxpayer to worldwide taxation in Italy both for income and estate tax purposes including the obligation to report all of taxpayer’s assets wherever located in the world under a form that is the equivalent of the american foreign bank account report, except that it requires reporting of non financial assets (such as cars, houses, planes, artworks, etc.) as well as financial assets and accounts. Foreign persons with interests in Italy must pay particular attention to those rules to avoid to be trapped into unintended Italian tax residency. 

Under the facts of the case decided by the Supreme Court,  the taxpayer – a tennis player originally resident in Italy – claimed to have moved his tax residency to Monaco, while still traveling to Italy and other countries in connection with his business interests and professional activity.

Under Italian law, Monaco is a tax haven, black listed jurisdiction and Italian taxpayers who register as residents there are presumed to be still resident in Italy for Italian tax purpose, unless they prove that their actual residence and domicile is located in that country. For this purpose, residence identifies the taxpayer’s habitual and regular place of living, while domicile identifies the taxpayer’s main center of personal, financial and business interests.  

Continue Reading Italian Supreme Court Rules on Individual Tax Residency

On January 17, 2013 the IRS issued final regulations providing rules on information reporting by foreign financial institutions (FFIs) and withholding on certain payments to FFIs and other foreign entities.

Under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2009 (FATCA), enacted as part of the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act of 2010, P.L. 111-147

The new U.S. FATCA legislation and implementing inter governmental agreements granting reciprocal and automatic exchange of financial information between tax administrations will make international tax reporting and compliance mandatory and unavoidable, and will tax authorities with formidable tools for international audits and enforcement activities.
Continue Reading Reciprocal Inter Governmental Agreement Will Introduce Automatic and Reciprocal US-Italy Disclosure and Exchange of Information For Tax Purposes

Italian resident taxpayers are required to report their foreign financial investments and assets which can generate foreign-source income subject to tax in Italy, by filling out a special part of their annual income tax return referred to as form RW. Foreign individuals who have (personal and business) interests and contacts with Italy that may trigger Italian tax residency under Italian residency or domicile tests would be subject to the same reporting obligations. Italy’s tax administration is stepping up its enforcement efforts in this area of law and penalties for failure to report are particular harsh and difficult to mitigate after the fact. We have prepared an overview of Italian international tax reporting rules with a general discussions of some of the relevant issues that arise in this area of law.
Continue Reading Italian International Tax Reporting Rules Through Part RW of Italian Tax Return

On January 9, 2011 the Internal Revenue Service reopened the offshore voluntary disclosure program to help people hiding offshore accounts get current with their taxes and announced the collection of more than $4.4 billion so far from the two previous international programs.

The IRS reopened the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) following continued strong interest from taxpayers and tax practitioners after the closure of the 2011 and 2009 programs. The third offshore program comes as the IRS continues working on a wide range of international tax issues and follows ongoing efforts with the Justice Department to pursue criminal prosecution of international tax evasion.  This program will be open for an indefinite period until otherwise announced.

“Our focus on offshore tax evasion continues to produce strong, substantial results for the nation’s taxpayers,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We have billions of dollars in hand from our previous efforts, and we have more people wanting to come in and get right with the government. This new program makes good sense for taxpayers still hiding assets overseas and for the nation’s tax system.”

The program is similar to the 2011 program in many ways, but with a few key differences. Unlike last year, there is no set deadline for people to apply.  However, the terms of the program could change at any time going forward.  For example, the IRS may increase penalties in the program for all or some taxpayers or defined classes of taxpayers – or decide to end the program entirely at any point.

“As we’ve said all along, people need to come in and get right with us before we find you,” Shulman said. “We are following more leads and the risk for people who do not come in continues to increase.”

Continue Reading IRS Announced Reopening of Tax Amnesty Program For Undisclosed Foreign Financial Accounts

Italy’s enacted a new tax on real estate properties located outside of Italy. The tax is charged at 0.76 percent rate on purchase price of fair market value. Individual taxpayers owning foreign real property directly are liable for the tax. Apparently, the tax does not apply to real property owned indirectly through foreign investment or management companies.
Continue Reading Italy’s New Tax on Foreign Real Estate Property