The ‘Decreto Cura Italia’ – how does it affect the legal system and payment of taxes in Italy?

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On Friday 24 April 2020, the Legislative Decree 18/2020, also known as the “Decreto Cura Italia” (the Cure Italy Decree), was passed by the Italian Senate and has become a definitive part of the country’s law.

The Decree aims to counteract the negative effects of the coronavirus emergency, particularly the economic repercussions in a country that has been in standstill since early March. It aims to encourage Court cases to progress as much as possible despite the circumstances, and provide temporary respite for individuals who may not currently be earning, and therefore are unable to pay taxes.

The Decree contains some provisions which affect the legal system, such as Court hearings, Court imposed deadlines and other dates which affect the Italian Statute of Limitations. All Court hearings have been postponed until after 11 May (although some hearings are being held via video conference), with individual Courts given the authority to further extend this date to the 30 June if necessary.

All Court documents, for both criminal and civil proceedings, have to be lodged online until the 30 June. Clients usually sign a litigation power of attorney which authorises their lawyer to act on their behalf, and who will then certify their signature.  This process has now been simplified, allowing clients to send their signed power of attorney to their lawyer by an electronic method, including text or Whatsapp messaging.

All Court-imposed deadlines have been suspended until the 11 May (although this may be extended again).  Any relevant legal timeframes, such as those which are essential when considering the Statute of Limitation, have also been suspended; this is particularly important in criminal proceedings as the total period for prosecuting a crime is limited to that equalling the maximum penalty provided by law (excluding crimes which would carry life imprisonment). This period of suspension would therefore not be included in this timeframe.

The suspension period will also be relevant in citizenship applications; any certificates which were due to expire from 23 February to 15 May will be valid until the 15 June. Equally, however, this time will not be considered as part of the four-year period that the Italian authorities have given themselves to provide a decision in relation to an application.

The deadline for payment of most taxes has also been suspended. For example, payment for inheritance taxes that fall within this period can be paid on the 31 May, either in one payment in full or in five instalments from this date. It’s recommended that individuals carefully check with their tax advisor as to their situation regarding the specific taxes due.

If the one year anniversary of an individual’s death (and therefore the deadline by which the Declaration of Succession must be lodged) falls within this period, the beneficiaries can now lodge it after the 30 June, without incurring any penalties for late presentation. As these Declarations are mostly submitted online, the document can still be submitted before this date, if possible. It’s important to note that the taxes which are due before the Declaration is submitted will still be due upon presentation (for example, the tassa ipotecaria e tassa catastale), and the receipt proving this payment should be attached to the Declaration when it is lodged, even if this is done before the 30 June.