Super rich buying up Italy’s mansions under new tax regime
You get the same sort of tax savings you get in Jersey but you get to live somewhere you actually want to live
Luxury Tuscan estate agent Ian Heath is developing a taste for private jets. Its not that unusual anymore, Heath says of hitching a ride on a billionaires jet to the Italian Riviera last week to give the wealthy client a tour of some of the most luxurious and expensive homes.
These guys fly around the world in their jets and helicopters, says Heath, a senior agent at Italian estate agency Lionard. It makes sense to use them for viewings. The problem was we still had to drive from Genoa to Portofino. In one day, they viewed half a dozen luxury villas dotted along the Ligurian coast and castles on the hills surrounding Florence. The cheapest one they saw was on the market for 10m (8.4m).
The client, a northern European entrepreneur who Heath declined to identity, is part of a growing influx of the global super-rich to Italy exploiting a little-known tax break that allows the worlds millionaires to pay a flat tax of just 100,000 no matter how much money they earn.
There has been a huge spike in interest among the global wealthy since the tax change, Heath says in his office overlooking a picture postcard perfect view of the Ponte Vecchio in the heart of Florence. There was an immediate 17% increase when the law changed in 2017 and, now that they [the wealthy and their advisers] are convinced that the tax break is here to stay, we are getting 350 qualified requests a month.
People love this. You get the same sort of tax savings you get in Jersey [and other tax havens] but you get to live somewhere you actually want to live.
Most of the wealthy immigrants to Italy come from the US and Britain, but there have been buyers from across Europe, Russia, Japan and China.
Why not? When you can buy one of these for the same price as a flat in Kensington or Knightsbridge, he says firing up his laptop to show a villa with a pool hugging the coast near the pretty resort town of Portofino. Lots of people are fed up in the UK and want to leave London. They want to feel European, they like the culture and the lifestyle. And of course the tax break.