There can be a lot to understand as you consider your move to Italy. There are also many sites on the internet that can be helpful as you plan. Here is some guidance along with some websites with additional information that we believe will be helpful to you.
- So you’ve decided to move to Italy… – Nancy Goes to Italy
Additional housing information:
- You will likely find that there are real estate agents that will be happy to show you apartments. This can be helpful, although there will be a fee for their services, which is typically paid by the buyer, not by the seller. Generally, we have found this fee to be one month’s rent, which you would pay in addition to the first and last month’s deposit to the renter.
- You need to make sure that the rental of your home is based on a contract. They should also register this contract with the Agenzia Entrate and provide you a copy of the contract that has the official registration stamp. This will likely come up at other times and in other documents such as with your residency process.
- A longer-term contract of 3-4 years is typical, but not necessarily required. You may be able to negotiate the price and and the length of the contract.
Additional vehicle information
- You will need to have your permesso di soggiorno and residency established to complete the purchase of your vehicle.
- Once you have agreed upon a price for the vehicle, you should go with the owner to an Automobile Club of Italy office to transfer ownership of the car. Note that you will need to pay a fee for the transfer which could be as much as €500-600.
- Every two years, you must complete an inspection on your vehicle. This is known as a “revisione”. On your “libretto” for your vehicle (we would refer to it as the “title” for the vehicle), you will find several stickers on the back telling you the last time that the inspection was completed. Look for a location called a Centro Revisione and you can complete it, typically for about €60 per car.
- In addition, you need to pay annual taxes for your vehicle. See additional information on this in the section on car taxes.
We have found that it isn’t a simple process to move money internationally, but we have found a few tricks along the way that you can consider.
Before starting this topic, we suggest that you use an address in the U.S. to open any of the accounts discussed below. Make sure that you have an address that will likely stay the same over the longer term and that you can trust to open your mail for you.
First, banks frequently charge fees for international ATM transactions. However, in many parts of Italy, and in many ways, Italy is still a cash economy. This can quickly become expensive if you are trying to withdraw significant sums of money. As a result, we make these recommendations:
Banking in the US
Sign up for one or more Charles Schwab investment brokerage accounts and you can open a bank account to go along with each one. Note that you should use a US-based address, not an overseas address, for this account. The primary advantage of this is that Schwab bank accounts provide rebates on all ATM fees worldwide, allowing you to withdraw cash without paying significant fees to do so. You will need to set a travel notice on your account, but you can call Schwab toll-free from Italy at 800 797 122.
Transferring money between the US and Europe
We have had good results to date with Transferwise. It gives you a bank account that works in the US and a bank account that works in Europe. This allows you to transfer money electronically and convert it between dollars and euros for very small fees. For example, we recently transferred $500 for about $.62 as opposed to sending a wire transfer for a typical international wire transfer fee of $35.
Banking in Italy
Most banks in Italy charge a relatively small monthly fee to keep the account open. Depending on how you decide to move money around, you may or may not need to use a bank account, but it is a good idea to have one open should you have the need to receive or send money from an Italian bank account.
ING Bank offers a free checking account that has had good results with decent service. It allows you to make payments that you need to make or receive payments as required.
Credit cards are being used increasingly in Italy. You might consider getting a credit card that will pay you in points or cash back, depending on your preference. Credit cards can be helpful, especially in helping to pay for travel, especially if you intend to use the card to gain points as you can redeem the points for free travel.
Insurance can break down into a few different categories:
- You are required to have health insurance while living in Italy.
- We have typically used the public health system while in Italy, so we have not used our private health insurance very much. That said, each person or family is different. Some prefer the public system due to the cost, while others prefer the private hospitals as they are typically offer higher quality care, although you will pay more for the private services.
- We have had good results finding policies through Good Neighbor Insurance. The policies that we have purchased through GNI have, to date, been satisfactory for both the Visa and Permesso di Soggiorno document processes.
- We have had difficulty having some frequently-used plans, such as Medishare and similar companies, accepted for the documentation processes in Italy.
- We would suggest simply calling your current insurance company for renter’s insurance on your apartment.
- There are only two American companies that we have found to insure drivers in Italy:
- Being insured with USAA and Geico depends on keeping a valid US driver’s license, so make sure to not let it lapse, and have a plan for renewal, even if you also have your Italian driver’s license.
- You can be insured also by Italian insurance companies, but of course, you will speaking with them primarily in Italian, so keep that in mind as you are deciding which company you will choose.
- Also, be prepared for your rates to jump up. Insurance companies will look at you as a brand new driver again, now that you are in Italy and learning to drive in a new system.
- Get your life insurance up to date while still in the US. We have not found that it is easy to be newly insured while living overseas given the health examinations and other checks that the company may want you to perform prior to insuring you.
Please note that Search Party isn’t providing official legal or tax advice, but hopefully this information can provide practical information that you can use to make your personal plans related to paying your taxes. Make sure and check with your tax consultant and sending agency related to your planning for taxes while living overseas.
- First, the good news. While living overseas, the US federal governmental doesn’t charge you for income taxes, as long as your income don’t go above their defined threshold. You can read about the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion on the IRS’s website.
- That said, unless you have opted out of social security, you do still have to pay FICA taxes (Social Security and Medicare) on your adjusted gross income, regardless of the fact that you aren’t paying income taxes. Depending on how you are employed by your sending agency, you may receive a W-2 (as an employee) or a 1099 (as an independent contractor), and that will help determine how you will pay your FICA taxes.
- Each year, you still have to file your tax return in the US, whether you are paying income tax or not.
- US citizens abroad are provided automatic extensions for filing their taxes. See more information on the IRS website. We have found that this can be particularly helpful in your first year so that you can qualify for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.
- While the US doesn’t charge you income tax, Italy does. Make sure and take some time to read through these articles:
- Requirement to file taxes in Italy
- Tax deductions in Italy
- Requirement to file taxes in Italy
- In Italy, a tax preparer is referred to as a commercialista. We have worked with a few commercialistas to date who have charged a minimum of €500 to prepare the Italian taxes. In each case, we have prepared our 1040 tax return in the US and then provided the completed 1040 to the commercialista to complete the tax preparation in Italy. They will also provide you the information that you need for any taxes that you owe in Italy.
Working with your Sending Agency
It is very important to work with your sending agency to understand what types of expenses can be submitted for reimbursement instead of being counted as income. The reason for this is that your gross income will be taxed in Italy for income taxes, whereas reimbursed expenses will not be as that money will not show up in your W2 or 1099 income reporting.
To use a simple example, if you have $1000 in total money, but $200 of that money was reimbursed to you as an expense, you will be taxed on $800, not $1000. This tax savings will show up both for your US FICA taxes as well as your Italian income taxes.
In addition, you should consider requesting a housing allowance from your sending agency. You must be ordained and an employee of the organization, receiving a W-2 to qualify for the housing allowance. To be clear, you cannot be a self-employed contractor receiving a 1099 and also receive a housing allowance. If you meet these qualifications, then the housing allowance should be excluded from your gross income, and you will not want that income reported on your W2 under Miscellaneous income. You can read more about this on the IRS website. This exclusion will help you for your income taxes, but these monies will still be taxed for your FICA calculations.
If you have ongoing business interests in the US, we recommend that you consider setting your business to file taxes as its own entity. Frequently, businesses are opened as LLCs, and the taxes are often then calculated on the tax return of the individual who opened the business or who is a partner within it.
However, in Italy, this does not work well as Italy does not allow business expenses to be deducted from your income in the same way that is allowed in the US. As a result, the gross income received by the business is taxed regardless of the expenses that you may have for that particular year. Not fun!
As a result, we recommend filing taxes for the business in the US as its own entity, receiving all due deductions for the business without the gross income for the business being displayed on your individual tax return.
There are many different opinions and ideas about how taxes work while living overseas. Many people have said that they don’t need to file taxes in Italy or they can manipulate the system in other ways. Again, we are not experts, but we do believe that what is written above is required.
You may find that experts in the US will advise you based on US-based rules. We have seen situations like the one mentioned in this article. Be careful from whom you are taking advice!
You might find reading some of these articles, even if some of them are a little older, pretty helpful, related to taxes:
Taxes for Cars
In addition to income taxes, there are annual taxes that you need to pay on cars that you own. You will pay taxes based on the size of your car.
To do this, you can go to a Tabacchi with your libretto and tell them that you need to pay the taxes.
You can do the same on Mooney.it. Select your payment method, choose what type of vehicle you have, and then and enter your “targa”, or your license plate number to learn how much you need to pay and complete the payment online.