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Clarifications on Tax Withholdings in Subcontracting 

The Italian Revenue Agency has provided clarifications on tax withholdings in subcontracting.

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Italy’s Revenue Agency recently provided crucial clarifications in response to inquiries about tax withholdings in subcontracting agreements.

The guidance, outlined in Response n. 144 of January 23, 2023, revolves around the application of Article 17­-bis within the legislative framework of July 9, 1997 (No. 241).

This article, introduced through the Decree-law n. 124 of October 26, 2019 and subsequently modified by Law n. 157 of December 19, 2019, focuses on countering the omitted or insufficient payment of tax withholdings

Overview of Article 17­-bis

The core of Article 17­-bis centers on “Withholdings and offsets in contracts and subcontracts and extension of the reverse charge regime to counter the illegal supply of manpower.” In essence, it places obligations on entities that entrust the execution of significant works or services to companies, needing the fulfillment of specific requirements to ensure compliance with tax withholding regulations. 

The clarified provisions detail the responsibilities of withholding agents, typically entities entrusted with works or services exceeding an annual total amount of €200,000. These agents are mandated to request copies of payment authorizations related to tax withholdings from the companies executing the works or services and their subcontractors.

The goal is to ensure transparency and proper documentation of tax-related transactions. 

Implications for Businesses and Tax Compliance

The clarifications provided by the Italian Revenue Agency have significant implications for businesses involved in subcontracting agreements.

The detailed guidance ensures a clearer understanding of the conditions that trigger the application of Article 17­-bis, allowing businesses to navigate tax withholdings more effectively. 

Compliance Checks for Tax Withholdings 

Entities entrusting significant works or services should conduct compliance checks to ensure adherence to tax withholding regulations. The requirement to request and provide copies of payment authorizations enhances transparency and accountability in tax-related transactions. 

Consideration of Contractual Structures

Businesses, especially those engaged in mixed contracts involving both works and services, need to carefully consider their contractual structures.

Understanding the prevalence of labor and meeting specific requirements is crucial to determining the applicability of Article 17­-bis.

Separation of Activities in Distinct Contracts

The clarification on the separation of activities into distinct contracts highlights the need for businesses to assess each contract independently.

Meeting the criteria for each contract ensures accurate compliance with tax withholding regulations. 

Evaluation of Instrumental Assets Usage

The distinction between indispensable and non-indispensable instrumental assets for the execution of work or services is a key consideration for businesses. Understanding these distinctions aids in determining the conditions under which Article 17­-bis applies. 

Threshold Considerations

Businesses should be mindful of the €200,000 threshold and the cumulative annual amount of individual contracts. This criterion influences the determination of whether the provisions of Article 17­-bis are applicable. 


The Italian Revenue Agency’s clarifications on tax withholdings in subcontracting agreements provide valuable insights into the application of Article 17­-bis.

Businesses should carefully review their contractual structures, compliance processes, and the utilization of instrumental assets to ensure adherence to tax regulations.

The agency’s guidance fosters transparency and accountability, ultimately contributing to a more robust tax compliance framework for businesses engaged in significant works or services. 

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Regulatory Framework

Response n. 144/2023

Reference (Italian only)

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