Special Tax Regime for University Professors and Researchers moving to Italy

Tax Incentives for University Professors and qualifying research workers moving to work in Italy

The Tax Benefit

This is a temporary preferential tax regime granted to University and researchers who transfer their tax residence to Italy in order to work from Italian soil  

90% of remuneration received (either pursuant  to a contract of employment or a contract of self-employment is 90% exempt  – so only 10%  of earned income  is subject to Italian income tax for each year the relief applies. 

The Relief only applies to earnings from a qualifying activity of University teaching or from a  research activity at a qualifying  institution or research centre. It does not cover other earnings or income which will be liable to tax under normal rules.  The Relief does not apply in the Tax Agency’s view, to activities of remote working for an employer or client resident outside Italy. 

Period of application of the Relief

For professors  and research workers who transfer to Italy starting as tax resident in FY 2020 or in a following year,  the tax relief applies in the tax period in which individual is first tax resident in Italy and the following five tax periods. this means an overall maximum of 6 tax years. 

Extension of the tax benefit period

Such individuals can extend the tax exempt period to up to 8 tax periods, if they have minor or dependent child or if they have become the owners of at least one residential property unit in Italy after the transfer or in the 12 months preceding it.

A further extension of up to 11 tax periods applies to taxpayers with at least two minor or dependent children and to up to 13 tax periods, for taxpayers with at least three underage or dependent children.

Conditions for the Tax Relief

A taxpayer will be eligible for the Relief in its current form must (and furnish documentary proof):

  • have a university degree or its equivalent (and have obtained a “dichiarazione di valore” – a certificate of validity, from the Italian consulate for the jurisdiction of the institution issuing the degree 
  • have been been tax resident abroad prior to the transfer otherwise than on an occasional basis
  • have carried out documented teaching or research activities abroad for at least two continuous years at a public or private research centre or university
  • carry out an activity of teaching or research in Italy for a period of at least two calendar years at any time prior to the transfer to Italy;
  • be tax resident in Italy, and maintain tax residence for each tax year in which the tax benefit is to apply. If a taxpayer transfers their residence away from Italy, the benefit ceases starting from the tax period in which the individual is no longer tax resident in Italy.

Italian citizens not enrolled in the Anagrafe degli Italiani residenti all’estero (AIRE) – Register of Italians Resident Abroad) may also benefit from the facilitated regime provided that, in the two tax periods preceding the transfer, they have been tax resident in another State, within the meaning of an applicable double tax treaty .

Extension for Professors and Research Workers who arrived prior to FY 2020

The 2022 Finance Law 2022 introduced the possibility for teachers and researchers to benefit, under certain conditions, from the extension of the preferential regime  for additional tax periods. Teachers and researchers registered with the AIRE or who are  EU citizens, who transferred their residence to Italy before 2020 and who, on 31 December 2019, were already beneficiaries of the special regime , may extend the application of the regime for up to eight, eleven or thirteen tax periods in total if they meet the conditions above applicable to post 2019 arrivers – residential real estate purchaser or minor/dependent children. 

Interaction of Tax Relief and Residence

A fundamental condition for the relief is that the taxpayer is tax resident in Italy within the definition of tax resident in Art 2 of the Italian Tax Code. 

The post 2024 definition can be seen here. Details of the  regime  up to the end of FY 2023  can be read here.

A taxpayer is generally either tax resident for a whole Italian tax (calendar) year or not.  This means that in order to maximise the  relief it is best to time a move starting work as early as possible in any year.  University Professors who start at the beginning of an Academic year in the early autumn/fall will most likely not meet the test of residence for the tax year in which they move and start work  and so be liable to tax in full to Italian tax on earnings for received for the period starting from commencement of the Italian employment up to the end of the year.   The Relief will start for earnings received from 1 January of the year following the move/start of the Italian employment, which will be the first year of the 6 to 13 years available for relief.   Under this scenario the individual will not be liable to income  taxes  on worldwide income for the year of transfer and commencement of work . 

Individuals moving and starting work in the first half of tax year will likely be considered Italian tax resident for the whole year and thus liable to Italian tax on income received abroad, prior to the move (without application of the Relief and the first year of the 8-13 year relief period will be the year of the move.

Similar attention needs to be given to the timing of a possible future exit from Italy  In order to apply the Relief for the year of exit , the taxpayer needs to be tax resident for that whole year, which would generally entail departure in the second half of the year. This might mean however that there is a liability to Italian tax on worldwide income and assets for that year.   Leaving in the half of the year mans that the Relief cannot apply for any Italian source earnings of that year, but there is no liability to tax on worldwide income or assets.

These generally rules can be modified by an applicable Double Tax Treaty which needs to be checked on a case by case basis.     Suffice to say that planning the timing for Italian tax residence and the Relief ahead of a move or departure is vital.  The timing may also be impacted by the relevant immigration procedures  – visa and stay permit, where required, and registration as resident. 

Also note that Tax Agency are firmly of the view that there must be a connection between the timing of the move and the employment – in other words the transfer to -Italy must be made for purposes of taking up a new employment (or starting in Italy as self employed). 

Interaction of Tax Relief and Residence

The Rules are complex. In particular the definition of what qualifies as research work and the type of employer/client institution is somewhat vague. As with any tax relief of this type the Tax Agency will be concerned to ensure that the substantial savings of tax available under the Regime are properly due, and documented, in any particular context.  Timing the move to Italy carefully in advance, as well as planning for an exit are crucial.

Do not hesitate to get in touch, if you have any questions.


Legislation and Tax Agency Guidance (in Italian)


Article 5 of Legislative Decree no. 34 of 2019 – Anti brain-drain legislation – “Rientro dei cervelli”

Article 44 of Legislative Decree no. 78 of 2010 – Incentives for the return to Italy of research workers residing abroad

Provision of 31 March 2022  –  Method of exercising the option referred to in article 5, paragraph 5-ter, of the legislative decree of 30 April 2019, n. 34, converted, with amendments, by law 28 June 2019, n. 58, as integrated by article 1, paragraph 763, of law 30 December 2021, n. 234, by teachers or researchers 




Circular no. 17 of 25 May 2022  – Option for the extension of the use of incentives for the return to Italy of teachers and researchers referred to in article 44 of Legislative Decree 31 May 2010 n. 78 – Article 1, paragraph 763, of law 30 December 2021, n. 234 (Budget Law 2022)

Resolution no. 146 of 29 November 2017 –  – Inapplicability of the special tax regime for professors and research workers pursuant to art. 44, legislative decree 31 May 2010, n. 78 to healthcare activities provided at university hospitals
Resolution no. 92 of 14 July 2017  – Research or teaching activities abroad under leave of absence

Circular no. 17 of 23 May 2017   – Special regimes for individuals transferring tax residence to Italy

Circular no. 4 of 15 February 2011, paragraph 21  – Legislative Decree of 31 May 2010 n. 78, converted by law 30 July 2010, n. 122 – Initial clarification

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