The Italian 2020 Finance Law has made some changes to the tax rules applicable to “Ticket Restaurant” (luncheon vouchers or meal tickets).
These vouchers are commonly used by Italian businesses to assist employees traditionally predominantly to cover the cost of the mid-day meal. In recent years many supermarkets have also started accepting vouchers in exchange for food.
The vouchers were originally issued in the form of a paper booklet. In recent years the principal operators issue cards, similar to credit cards, which can be topped up automatically by the employer and swiped in restaurants and other food suppliers in exchange for meals and food supplies. Th electronic format enables the authorities to keep track of the use of the vouchers minimising abuse and assist restaurants with the administration of payments.
The Law increases the tax free limit electronic meal vouchers from Euro 7.00 to Euro 8.00 per day. The limit for meal vouchers in paper format is reduced from Euro 5.29 to Euro 4.00 per day.
The Law makes no changes to the rules applicable to food or meals supplied by an employer or to canteens organized directly by the employer or managed by third parties (without the involvement of meal vouchers).
Vouchers are a worthwhile fringe benefit – employees can be given up to Euro 8 per day (for electronic vouchers) or approximately Euros 160 per month without incurring any liability to income tax or social security. This can represent a saving of tax up to Euro 500 per year per employee and a similar amount in social security savings.
Employers can provide meal tickets over this amount, but any excess over the thresholds will be taxable as part of the employees normal remuneration.