Italy Hopes to Lure Retirees to Sicily, Sardinia and Calabria With Massive Tax Break

Sep 12, 2018

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If you’d prefer to put your IRA toward limoncello and a charming Italian casa di campagna rather than taxes, you might be in luck. A new proposal from the League — Italy’s nationalist, far-right party — hopes to attract retirees to southern Italy for a decade of tax-free retirement.

“We’re trying to provide an incentive for the transfer of older people [toward the south],” Alberto Brambilla, economic advisor to deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, told La Repubblica.

According to the Italian paper, both local as well as foreign pensioners will be eligible for the project, which aims to repopulate the rapidly declining southern regions of Sicily, Sardinia and Calabria.

Photo by @benrrichardson via Twenty20
Photo by @benrrichardson via Twenty20.

If the scheme is ever realized, it would aim to welcome some 600,000 residents to southern Italy, which is experiencing rapid depopulation and severe unemployment. (La Repubblica reported that an estimated 60,000 retired Italian families have fled to destinations such as Panama, Mexico, Portugal and Cyprus — places where favorable rents will help them stretch their pensions.)

To qualify, retirees would be required to settle in villages and towns with a population that has declined by at least 20% in the last decade, and with fewer than 4,000 residents.

Brambilla said that Italy could expect to welcome those 600,000 new silver-haired inhabitants in as few as three or four years “as a result of the [tax] relief.” Each family could contribute up to €25,000 (nearly $30,000) a year to the local economy.

For those enticed by the promise of “total tax exemption for the first 10 years” of a dreamy retirement in Italy — not to mention Mediterranean views and pasta con le sarde — don’t rush to put your house on the market just yet. The proposal is far from becoming law.

If the League’s bold plan is ever realized, however, expats won’t have any trouble finding a place to call home. Last month, The Independent reported that abandoned stone homes in the Sicilian town of San Piero Patti were being exchanged for €1 (about $1.20), and the promise that the new homeowners would restore the property in the traditional fashion.

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