Author: Lawyer Enrico Germano
More and more Italian citizens, resident in Switzerland and registered in the Registry of Italian citizens residing abroad (A.I.R.E), in receipt of a B permit (residence permit for nationals of EU/EFTA States with a validity of 5 years, which is issued if there is proof of an employment relationship of at least 365 days or of indefinite duration1) or a C permit (settlement permit issued after a stay of 5 or 10 years in Switzerland2), are being served with collection notices by the Italian tax authorities, having in the past exercised gainful activities in Italy before moving to Switzerland, as well as being owners of real estate or having other interests of an economic nature in Italy.
It should be recalled that both Switzerland and Italy are signatories to the Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, which was concluded in The Hague, the Netherlands, on 15 November 1965 and entered into force for Italy on January 24th 1982 and for Switzerland on January 1st 1995. Later both Switzerland and Italy also signed a Bilateral Agreement on June 2nd 1988, which did not abrogate the Hague Convention of November 15th 1965, which remains applicable as an alternative to the Agreement.
The service of any tax documents to Italian citizens registered in the A.I.R.E. must take place at their domicile in Switzerland, by sending a registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt, if it appears that the Italian tax authorities know the foreign residence, which is the case when the Italian citizen has registered with the A.I.R.E. In the event that the Italian citizen had not announced himself to General Register Office, then, in that case, service by posting the notice of deposit on the municipal notice board of the municipality of the taxpayer’s last Italian residence would be valid.
Article 60 par.1, lett. e of Italian Presidential Decree No 600/73 provides “when in the municipality in which service is to be effected there is no residence, office or business of the taxpayer, the notice of deposit prescribed by Article 140 of the (Italian) Code of Civil Procedure, in a closed and sealed envelope, shall be posted on the municipal notice board and service, for the purposes of the running of the time limit for appeal, shall be deemed to have been effected on the eighth day following that on which it is posted”3.
In recent years, the increasing exchange of information between countries has made it more and more difficult to escape from tax assessments perpetuated by the Italian tax authorities, and the serving of tax documents and tax bills in Switzerland is not as unusual as it once was.
Finally, it is also important to recall that the Italian tax authorities may proceed with the foreclosure and/or seizure of the movable and/or immovable property located in the Italian territory of the taxpayer who has moved abroad. In the event of non-payment of the collection notices within 60 days (or the different term of 180 days) from the date of notification in Switzerland, or if the taxpayer fails to request payment in instalments (which also provides for payment in 72 monthly instalments), the Italian Revenue Agency will be entitled to initiate against the taxpayer all the precautionary and/or conservative procedures provided for by Italian law, as well as the enforcement for the compulsory recovery of the unpaid debt.
3 Decree of the President of the Republic of 29 September 1973 n. 600 – Common provisions on the assessment of income taxes – published in the Official Gazette no. 268 of 16 October 1973