Leaving Italy: The Practicalities

On March 31st, 2008, my residence in Italy was officially revoked. This was easy to accomplish. A few days before, Enrico and I had gone together to Lecco’s Ufficio dell’Anagrafe (I guess a reasonable translation would be “Population Records Office”). This is where you go to record transfers of residence (within Italy), births, deaths, and marriages.

To undo my Italian residency, all that was required was to write a letter which the nice lady at the window dictated and Enrico transcribed (his handwriting being much more legible than mine). She photocopied my carta d’identita’ (Italian identity card) and gave it back to me, then told us to go to the Registry Office (within the same building) to officially hand in the letter. The lady there gave us a dated and signed photocopy, and that was all there was to it.

You may be wondering: why did I so easily give up what so many foreigners would give their eyeteeth to have? Taxes, my friend. Most countries in the world, including Italy, make all their residents, citizens or foreigners, pay some sort of income tax. The US is perhaps the ONLY country in the world which requires its non-resident citizens to pay tax. So, if you’re an American living overseas, you’ve got two sets of taxes to file per year. There is a tax treaty between the US and Italy such that the US gives you tax credits for the Italian taxes paid on the first $86,000 of your income. Beyond that, you’re paying both governments for the privilege of working. There was a time, in my Dotcom boom heyday, when I was paying over 50% of my income in taxes.

Since I will no longer be availing myself of Italian national services such as health care and education, I see no good reason to keep giving money to the Italian government, especially when I have to put a kid through college in the US. So I’ve cancelled my Italian residency. I can still visit at least as often I’m likely to have time to, I think the limit is three months out of every six. Supposedly at some point someone official will show up at our house to ascertain whether I’m still there or not.

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