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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

La dolce vita lures global ultra-wealthy to Italy

Country racing to attract wealthy foreigners to boost the economy with investments, consumption and fresh capital with low tax rates

Men pose centurions in front of the Colosseum during a snowfall in Rome, Italy. The country is looking to attract wealthy foreigners. Angelo Carconi/EPA
Men pose centurions in front of the Colosseum during a snowfall in Rome, Italy. The country is looking to attract wealthy foreigners. Angelo Carconi/EPA

Millionaires from Russia to Norway and the US are seeking to take advantage of Italy’s low tax rates for the super-rich.

In an effort to attract capital, Italy unveiled a measure last year allowing ultra-wealthy individuals taking up residency to pay a flat tax of €100,000 (Dh448,940) a year, regardless of their income. Around 150 people, including some with wealth of above “hundreds of millions”, enquired about the measure, Fabrizio Pagani, head of the office of the Minister of Economy and Finance said in London.

“We have people from the UK, Switzerland, Russia, from the US, the usual suspects,” Mr Pagani said. “But we have also Norwegians and some Dutch, and not necessarily in finance. Some of those people are art collectors. We are talking about very, very rich people.”

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Italy, which is struggling to accelerate recovery after years of recession, is racing to attract wealthy foreigners to boost the economy with investments, consumption and fresh capital. Countries such as Portugal have already been successful in luring high-net-worth individuals, offering tax benefits in an effort to shore up public finances. Italy is facing political uncertainty at the election on March 4, where no clear winner is expected to emerge.

Under the tax measure, individuals are expected to move their residencies to Italy. Pagani said Milan, Venice and the glamorous area around the lakes at the foot of the Alps may become even wealthier. The number expected to take up the offer will grow “exponentially”, as was the case in Portugal, he said.

The figure of “150 is a very good number for the first year”, Mr Pagani said.

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