Farm buildings (Fabbricati rurali) are normally registered in the Countryside Land Registry (Catasto Terreni) and are usually not subject to tax in Italy.

These buildings are supposed to be the farmer`s house, where the owner is registered as a professional farmer (Rurali abitativi) or premises used for effective farming such as greenhouses (Serre) small farm outbuilding of a total surface area of 8 sq metres, or similar such as hen-houses, pigsties or manure stores etc (Rurali strumentali). Dilapidated buildings (Edifici collabenti) are also exempted.

The actual tax definitions are highly technical and do not include fashionable farm cottages restored and used as holiday homes  – no longer used for effective farming purposes. These buildings are no longer “rural”, and under Italian law must be re-registered at the Town Land Registry (Catasto Fabbricati). This in turn implies that Italian Council Tax (IMU and TASI) is due and payable.

In 2011 legislation was issued in Italy requiring all nominal “Farm building” to be re-registered at the Town Land Registry by 30.11.2012, or within 30 days from the date of the change of use. It is not clear how many Italian property owners complied with this legislation. Since November 2012, the Italian Revenue (Agenzia delle Entrate) carried out some research.

On 24 May 2017 the Italian Revenue issued a press notice, reporting that approximately 1,000,000 informal notices (Avvisi bonari) are to be issued to registered owners of  800,000 “farm buildings” that should have been re-registered at the Town Land Registry. These informal notices warn the taxpayer and give a chance to regularize the position by paying a reduced penalty of Euro 172 (out of a statutory penalty ranging between Euro 1,032 and Euro 8,264), and avoid having the former rural property compulsory re-registered at the Town Land Registry by the authorities, at the expense of the recalcitrant owners.

If you own an Italian property that is no longer a farm building proper and is still registered at the Countryside Land Registry (Registro Terreni) as a “Fabbricato rurale” and receive an informal notice (Avviso Bonario), this may be your last chance to resolve the issue with minimum affliction.

Clearly it will still be necessary to check whether the informal notice is correct. After all, greenhouses, hen-houses, other instrumental farm buildings and dilapidated buildings will continue to be registered on the Countryside Land Registry, and effectively, be exempted from tax.

If the Italian Revenue notice is correct, it will be necessary to promptly appoint a qualified property professional, to draft the application to re-register the property (Aggiornamento cartografico and Dichiarazione di aggiornamento) and of course, to lodge the papers and to pay the reduced penalty. In Italian tax terms, this is called “active reformation” (Ravvedimento operoso).  It requires the prompt action and payment of the taxpayer.

This however will only be the beginning of the matter. Once the building has been re-registered, the local Council will probably take notice and take action to collect any local taxes which were not duly paid. Also in this case, prompt action and payment may reduce the costs of the operation.

It may all prove rather challenging for the now compliant property owner. However, action should have been taken in 2012…., almost five years ago.

Dr Claudio Del Giudice – Copyrights reserved