Inheriting property in Italy- on occasion….meglio di no!

I am occasionally asked about property that immigrant families left behind that may still be ‘inheritable’ by the emigrant descendants.

I’d like to tell you this story….

Yesterday at a family luncheon the talk turned to property taxes and Saverio began to talk about his high property taxes. 

Today your principal residence is tax-free but every other piece of property you own is taxed at an ever increasing rate.  (It’s value, and that of your car etc is also added to your ‘income’ for income tax purposes in a different tax-grab!) 

After making inquiries Saverio learned that he not only had a second residence in which his son is living but, to his surprise a third residence which comprises of a single room that is actually located in the house next door (attached to his).  Apparently he inherited this room when his father died and the property was divided between his six children.  A part of Saverio’s inheritance was this room which is currently located in the home of a nephew but since it is registered in his name it becomes a THIRD residence and therefore taxed at a higher rate than the second residence.

His nephew was approached about transferring the title of this room to himself but since this would cost about 3000 Euro for the notary he declined.  Saverio doesn’t want to continue to pay 280 Euro a year in property taxes (he has been paying this for several years already) on a room he does not have access to. An alternative would be to transfer the room to his own property next door which would only cost around 500 Euro.  The nephew is not happy about the possibility of losing a room he really does not use except for storage since the window is adjacent to the entrance of Saverio’s home but he is not willing to pay any of the costs associated with resolving the situation despite the fact he is not being asked to actually ‘buy’ the room from his Uncle.

The situation is tense with family members already taking sides in this issue. 

So, if your ancestor left Italy before his father died he probably did inherit a portion of any property.  A quarter, a sixth, an eighth?  Since then his siblings have probably died and left their share divided between their children.  There are now a  potential 16-32 heirs to this property.  The ones who stayed in Italy may have obtained their siblings consent to use the portion that went to the emigrants, or even purchased it from their absent sibling or even were ‘given’ the portion.  Or perhaps they just usurped it, quietly.  After all they are now only paying taxes on their share of the property, not on that of an absent sibling or their descendants even if they are making good use of it.

Now perhaps you can understand why Italians can be reluctant on occasion to meet their long, lost cousins from America, especially if they have rooms in their home they are not paying tax on!


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