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Artworks disposal: a parliamentary question reiterates the (few) cases where taxation applies


Buying artworks and antiquities has globally increased over the last few years, especially as a result of the spread of digital platforms that allow online-trading.
In this scenario, measures have been implemented in Italy with the aim of encouraging and developing the collecting of artworks and antiquities; these rules, which have significantly partaken in the conservation of the artistic heritage in the Italian territory, do not so far appear sufficient to provide a tax comprehensive framework among professionals.

In the answer to Question 5-01718/2019, submitted by some Italian Parliament members who were concerned about a potential increase in the tax burden which prompted the move of many sector’s operators, the current regulatory framework has been recently confirmed thus, no increase in the level of taxation on the sale of artworks is envisaged.

In fact, under the Italian tax artworks regime, a favourable treatment to the sale of artworks is provided for “collectors” who - as private individuals - are not engaged, regularly and principally, in a business activity; therefore, capital gains achieved on such disposal are tax exempt. Conversely, when the collector has a speculative purpose (even if not habitual) or he carries out an ordinary business activity (i.e.: art dealer), the relevant income will be liable to taxation and treated as respectively other income or corporate income.

The aforementioned answer also specified that, to ensure that such income is relevant for tax purposes, the carrying out of business activity (even on an occasional basis) must be previously proven: to this aim, a case-by-case analysis is required in order to identify a series of actions –  even those carried out over several years – linked to each other and predetermined for the achievement of an income through artworks/antiquities disposal.

CMS Tax Alert | 17 novembre 2019
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