ICC seminar tackles Italian taxation for foreign investors
ICC held a seminar in Paris on 18 June addressing issues surrounding taxation and foreign investors in Italy, in response to growing concern from international taxation practitioners about Italy’s perceived aggressiveness in dealing with international tax matters.
Alberto Pluviano (Principal, Transfer Pricing at Charles River Associates in Paris) underscored these concerns when opening the seminar, entitled “Italy and International Taxation”. Mr Pluviano mentioned his recent positive experiences dealing with a long and complex transfer pricing audit in Italy. The outcome of this process serves as an example of effective communication with tax authorities, he said.
Paolo De Capitani (Tax Partner at Studio Uckmar in Milan) illustrated elements of uncertainty with regards to Italian tax authorities. Mr De Capitani derived his examples largely from controversial case law that justifies some concerns expressed by the international tax community. The main concerns arise from the application by Italian tax authorities of the extension of the statute of limitations in the case of alleged criminally-relevant violations and from the widespread application of the abuse of law doctrine.
Other concerns discussed relate to dependent agent Permanent Establishments (PE’s) and transfer pricing, as well as corporate and business reorganizations. De Capitani also stressed the high skill of tax administration staff, which has been more willing to take an approach that is both transparent and open to discussion. This has been a welcome improvement among foreign investors.
Franck Le Mentec (Tax Partner at Cotty Vivant Marchisio & Lauzeral in Paris) provided a foreign expert’s point of view, observing in particular that Italy appears to be particularly advanced in implementing international tax rules or OECD and EU guidelines.
Other key topics discussed during the seminar included:
- Transfer pricing documentation and audit practices
- Tax audits and litigation
- Tax authorities’ audit programme 2012
- Preventing double taxation
- Permanent establishment
- Case law
In his closing remarks, Mr Le Mentec observed that Italy is a particularly interesting country to watch because, in certain cases, it is pioneering approaches in the field of international taxation that will eventually spread to other countries.