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Return of teachers and researchers residing abroad: new clarifications from the Revenue Agency

With new responses to ruling n. 222 and 239 of April 2022, the Revenue Agency has provided new and important clarifications on the subject of incentives for the return to Italy for teachers and researchers residing abroad.

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The Revenue Agency recognized the tax benefit introduced by article 44 of the decree-law of 31 May 2010, no. 78 for teachers and researchers, even in the case of teaching and/or research activities abroad with unpaid leave and also in the event that the teaching and/or research activity is not carried out in the immediately preceding two years.

The incentives provided for the return to Italy of researchers and teachers by Art. 44 of the decree-law 31 May 2010, n. 78

Paragraph 1 of article 44 provides that 90% of the emoluments received by teachers and researchers are excluded for the purposes of income tax.

The incentives apply to teachers and researchers who are in possession of a university degree or equivalent and do not occasionally resident abroad, have carried out documented research or teaching abroad at public or private research centers or universities for at least two continuous years and who come to carry out their activity in Italy, consequently acquiring fiscal residence in the territory of the state.

Pursuant to paragraph 3, the provisions apply in the tax period in which the researcher becomes fiscally resident in the territory of the State and in the 5 subsequent tax periods provided that the tax residence in Italy remains.

As specified with circular no. 17 / E of 23 May 2017, Part II, paragraph 1.2, as regards the subjective requirements, based on the provisions of article 44 of law decree no. 78 of 2010, professors and researchers can benefit from preferential taxation, under the following conditions:

  • being in possession of a university degree or equivalent;
  • have not occasionally been resident abroad;
  • have carried out documented research or teaching activities abroad for at least two continuous years, at public or private research centers or universities;
  • carry out teaching and research activities in Italy;
  • acquire tax residence in the State. In relation to the period of stay abroad, the law does not specify the duration, while it places particular emphasis on the duration of the research or teaching activity which must be common and not on the basis of periods of tax residence. For the teaching activity, however, it can be calculated on the basis of the duration of the academic years.

The legislation in question responds to the dual need to remedy the so-called phenomenon of the “fuga dei cervelli” (brain drain) and to favor the technological and scientific development of the country. A necessary condition for the application of the facility in question, among others, is that the researcher acquires and maintains residence in Italy.

The reply to ruling no. 222 of 27/04/2022

The Revenue Agency with response to ruling no. 222 of 27 April 2022 clarified that to benefit from the incentives described above, it is not strictly necessary that the teaching and research activity have been carried out in the two years immediately preceding the return, as it is sufficient that the interested party, before returning to Italy, has carried out such qualified activities abroad for a minimum and uninterrupted period of at least twenty-four months.

For teaching, the period of twenty-four months is considered completed if the activity has been carried out for two continuous academic years.

The reply to ruling no. 239 of 29/04/2022

With the subsequent response to ruling no. 239 of 29 April 2022, the Agency also specified that professors at universities in Italy who have carried out teaching and/or research activities abroad using unpaid leave pursuant to article 7, paragraph 1, of law no. 240 of 2010, can take advantage of the facilities referred to in Article 44 of Law Decree no. 78 of 2010, if the other required conditions exist, starting from the tax year of return to Italy.

Furthermore, the Revenue Agency added that it is not relevant to have already benefited from the subsidy scheme in question with reference to previous years, as there is no foreclosure in this sense in the law.

Please note that, in relation to the extension of the special regime for additional tax periods, the Revenue Agency has provided some clarifications, also establishing a new deadline for applications.

Regulatory Framework

Decree-law 31 May 2010 no. 78

Reference (Italian only)

Reply to ruling no. 222 27/04/2022

Reference (Italian only)

Reply to ruling no. 239 29/04/2022

Reference (Italian only)

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