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Setting up as a freelancer in Italy
Thread poster: George Young

George Young  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 01:42
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
Feb 18, 2015

Hello,

I am a freelance translator, based in England. I may be relocating to Italy later this year and I am hoping to get some advice on taxation & other costs involved in setting up in Italy.

If anyone can point me in the right direction to find details of taxes applicable to freelancers, that would be really helpful. Do translators have to pay any taxes other than income tax and is VAT-registration mandatory?

Is it necessary to register with a professional/trade association? If so, what is the appropriate one for translators?

I expect it will be much easier to employ an accountant, rather than relying on my own understanding of Italian taxation, how much should I expect to pay for completing my tax return?

With regard to healthcare, can anyone provide any guidance on exactly what is covered by the state healthcare system and roughly what I could expect to pay for supplementary insurance?

Thanks very much for any advice provided!

George


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:42
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Italian forum Feb 18, 2015

Unfortunately there isn't a forum for working in Italy, but there is one in the Italian language: http://www.proz.com/forum/italian-26.html. It's clear that a lot of the topics there are to discuss just this type of question. You're lucky - you're moving to a country where you speak the language, unlike me.

I can tell you from what I've read here that it isn't the best place for a translator. But that isn't the only reason for choosing to live in a country or I wouldn't be where I am now.


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George Young  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 01:42
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Sheila Feb 18, 2015

Will have a shuftie at the Italian portal and perhaps post something over there as well.

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:42
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Prepare for the worst Feb 18, 2015

George,

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but having resided and worked in Italy for more than 20 years before I finally gave up, I feel I must warn you but you are in for shock and surprise when you encounter the administrative systems of everything in Italy, which are based on mistrust and disbelief. Every field of the Italian administrative system and every institution or private business, and in national and local government, is permeated by this attitude, which generates a requirement for the verification of everything, verification of the verification, and cross-verification between the verifying parties, which themselves have to verify their own validity one to another. In a real sense, Italian citizens, or anyone living and working in Italy, is a victim of this system, which is grossly impersonal, inflexible, punitive, and above all, time-wasting. As in a novel by Franz Kafka, it is always impossible to find out exactly what it is you're supposed to be doing, how to do it, or how long it may take. All you know is that you must do it, and give priority because if you don't, the consequences will be unforeseeably dire.

I would advise you not to burn your bridges and to maintain some sort of administrative basis in the UK. The ideal solution would be to remain resident for tax purposes in the UK, which may involve maintaining an address in the UK and periodically returning here. I can assure you that that would be a strongly preferable solution. And above all, beware of Italian accountants. Most of them don't know what they're doing, partly because they themselves cannot understand what the legislation is supposed to mean. You are also likely to find that in you, they see an income source, especially if you're not Italian and don't understand everything, beginning from the impenetrable language that is used in official documents. As a non-Italian, you cannot cheat the system in the way that many Italians do just to get along; as a non-Italian, with a name that will immediately attract the interest of the tax inspectors (another social category to be avoided like the plague) you must be sure to meet every minimal detail of every requirement imposed upon you. Also bear in mind that these requirements are continuously changing.

Many years ago as a starry-eyed younger man excited by the prospect of a new life in a new country, I emigrated to Italy and very quickly found myself deeply bewildered. The only way for someone like me (or potentially, you) to survive in Italy is to seek out sympathetic friends - Italian friends, not other emigres, and stay close to them; because you should not trust anyone else. Italy is a beautiful country and in many ways the Italians are admirable, compassionate, intelligent, and far more civilised than other places; but this is because they have no illusions about how the human spirit can become corrupt.

If you require any more information do not hesitate to contact me personally.

[Edited at 2015-02-18 11:48 GMT]


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Flora Iacoponi, MCIL  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 00:42
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
Abandon all hope, you who enter here Feb 18, 2015

Hi George,

my title is a bit dramatic (an obvious quote from Dante) and the Italian colleagues living in Italy (I don't) will certainly enlighten you with all the details but my recommendation would be to keep paying your taxes in the UK and live in Italy only for a few months a year as you would go from one of the best tax systems for the self-employed in the world to one of the worst IMHO.

Best of luck,
Flora


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:42
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Applauso Feb 18, 2015

Flora Iacoponi, MCIL wrote:

Hi George,

my title is a bit dramatic (an obvious quote from Dante) and the Italian colleagues living in Italy (I don't) will certainly enlighten you with all the details but my recommendation would be to keep paying your taxes in the UK and live in Italy only for a few months a year as you would go from one of the best tax systems for the self-employed in the world to one of the worst IMHO.

Best of luck,
Flora


Brava Flora - I have already given my opinion (see above) but it has more weight coming from an Italian.

un abbraccio di ringraziamento !


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George Young  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 01:42
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the warnings Feb 18, 2015

Thanks for your replies but if we do move it will be because of my wife's job and maintaining UK tax residency won't be practical. Therefore, I could really do with some hard facts (or as "hard" as can be ascertained....) about what to expect in terms of tax liabilities etc.

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:42
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Yes it will Feb 18, 2015

George Young wrote:
maintaining UK tax residency won't be practical.


You may find that it's more practical than the alternative. But of course you're not listening. I didn't either. As for hard facts: there's no such thing in Italy. What is true today is unlikely to be true on another day or in another place. And when it comes to tax liabilities, nobody knows. Explore the Italian forums; they're full of discussions amongst Italians, trying to find out what their own tax position is. You really are in for a surprise (and not necessarily a pleasant one) at just how different everyday life in Italy is from everyday life in the UK. I hate to be saying these things but I feel I must.

[Edited at 2015-02-18 12:00 GMT]


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George Young  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 01:42
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Legality? Feb 18, 2015

I was under the impression you had to spend something like 180 days/fiscal year in the UK to be legally able to maintain UK tax residency?

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:42
Member (2008)
Italian to English
So do it Feb 18, 2015

George Young wrote:

I was under the impression you had to spend something like 180 days/fiscal year in the UK to be legally able to maintain UK tax residency?


Well, that's what you should plan to do.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:42
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I should leave George to answer that Feb 18, 2015

Tom in London wrote:

George Young wrote:

I was under the impression you had to spend something like 180 days/fiscal year in the UK to be legally able to maintain UK tax residency?


Well, that's what you should plan to do.


but there are worse things in life than having to cope with paying a lot of taxes etc. And having your marriage break up because you were living half the year in different countries would be one of them, IMHO.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:42
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Not about the amount Feb 18, 2015

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Tom in London wrote:

George Young wrote:

I was under the impression you had to spend something like 180 days/fiscal year in the UK to be legally able to maintain UK tax residency?


Well, that's what you should plan to do.


but there are worse things in life than having to cope with paying a lot of taxes etc. And having your marriage break up because you were living half the year in different countries would be one of them, IMHO.


It isn't the amount that's the problem. And of course marriages can break up for all kinds of reasons. But one should not assume that they will. Anyone who hasn't actually lived and worked in Italy really has no idea. You just would not believe it.

[Edited at 2015-02-18 12:17 GMT]


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Maria S. Loose, LL.M.  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 01:42
German to English
+ ...
Sometimes it's difficult to count the exact number of days Feb 18, 2015

The rule of 180 days per year seems to apply everywhere. I have the same problem with the Netherlands and Belgium. But nobody is counting the exact number of days. My husband has his fiscal residence in the Netherlands and I have mine in Belgium. I just have to convince the taxman that I mainly live in Belgium. I do this by showing my electricity bill, other bills relating to my expenses in Belgium etc.

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:42
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Interesting Feb 18, 2015

Maria S. Loose, LL.M. wrote:

The rule of 180 days per year seems to apply everywhere. I have the same problem with the Netherlands and Belgium. But nobody is counting the exact number of days. My husband has his fiscal residence in the Netherlands and I have mine in Belgium. I just have to convince the taxman that I mainly live in Belgium. I do this by showing my electricity bill, other bills relating to my expenses in Belgium etc.


That's interesting; 180 days is six months. That means that, if I want to, I could spend half the year in Italy but still remain a taxpayer in the UK - thereby avoiding all the hassle of trying to be a taxpayer in Italy. Just enjoying all the good things about living in Italy, without having to think about the bad things. Hmm. (stroking chin pensively)


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:42
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Useful forum Feb 18, 2015

George: I periodically visit this forum

http://britishexpats.com/forum/italy-77/

to remind myself of why I'm glad not to be living in Italy any longer. Without wishing to seem snobbish, I have to confess I find the users slightly, er, down-market. But some of their problems are worth knowing about.


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