The Budget Law introduced or confirmed various measures for the country’s competitiveness. Most of these measures aim to encourage technological innovation in the industrial system.
Patent box: research and development at 110%
As regards the so-called patent box, for the purposes of calculating income tax, research and development costs incurred in relation to software protected by copyright, industrial patents, designs and models that are used directly or indirectly by the company are increased by 110%.
In other words, the Budget Law amends Article 6 of Decree-Law No. 146/2021, which in its previous formulation allowed for a decrease in business income of 90% of research and development expenses. As a result, as mentioned above, research and development costs incurred in connection with copyrighted software, industrial patents, designs and models that are used directly or indirectly in the conduct of the business are increased by 110% for income tax purposes.
The new rules exclude trademarks from the scope of eligible assets, limiting the scope of the rule to assets covered by patents or other legally protected assets.
Nuova Sabatini and Fondo di garanzia
The year-end manoeuvre refinances the Nuova Sabatini with a total of €900 million from 2022 to 2026 and the Fondo di garanzia with an overall increase of a further €3 billion until 2027.
The Nuova Sabatini supports companies’ access to credit. The measure encourages investments to purchase or lease machinery, equipment, plants, capital goods for productive use, and hardware. Software and digital technologies are also included. Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises are eligible for the facility if, on the date the application is submitted, they are properly constituted and registered in the Register of Enterprises or the Register of Fishing Enterprises.
The purpose of the Fondo di garanzia is to facilitate access to financial sources for small and medium-sized enterprises by granting a public guarantee that accompanies or often replaces collateral. In this way a company can obtain financing without additional guarantees and costs (sureties, insurance policies) on the amounts guaranteed by the Fund.
Fondo transizione industriale
The Ministry for Economic Development has set up the Fondo transizione industriale with an initial budget of €150 million from 2022. The aim is to encourage the adjustment of the production system to European policies on combating climate change through incentives to companies for investments in energy efficiency and the productive reuse of raw and recycled materials.
Tax credits for 4.0 investments in research and development, ecological transition and technological innovation have been extended.
The aid is divided into three macro-actions:
1) tax credit for investments in capital goods: incentives to companies that invest in new capital goods, tangible and intangible, functional to the technological and digital transformation of production processes intended for production facilities located in the territory of the State.
In particular, the following should be noted
– technologically advanced tangible capital goods: for 2022, a tax credit is envisaged: 40% of the cost for the portion of investments up to €2.5 million; 20% of the cost for the portion of investments over €2.5 million and up to the limit of total eligible costs of €10 million; 10% of the cost for the portion of investments between €10 million and up to the limit of total eligible costs of €20 million;
– technologically advanced intangible capital goods functional to the 4.0 transformation processes: 20% of the cost up to a maximum eligible cost limit of €1 million. Expenses for services incurred through cloud computing solutions are also considered eligible for the share attributable on an accrual basis;
2) tax credit for research and development, technological innovation, design and aesthetic conception;
3) training 4.0 tax credit: support for companies in training their staff in 4.0 technologies.
The 394 Revolving Fund, which ensures support for internationalisation activities, has been increased by €1.5 billion for each of the years 2022 to 2026.
Participation of SMEs in international fairs and exhibitions. Subsidised loan with non-repayable co-financing to support participation in a single event of an international nature, even a virtual one between: trade fair, exhibition, business mission and system mission, to promote the business activity on foreign markets or in Italy, through the provision of financing for at least 30% for digital expenses related to the project. This restriction does not apply if the international event concerns environmental or digital issues.
E-commerce in foreign countries. Subsidised loan with non-repayable co-financing, intended for the implementation of a digital investment project for the creation or improvement of a proprietary (dedicated) e-commerce platform or access to a third-party platform (marketplace) for the marketing of goods or services produced in Italy or under the Italian brand name.
Contratti di sviluppo
450 million has been allocated to refinance the industrial policy tool of development contracts to facilitate investment projects in support of competitiveness.
The development contracts scheme is managed by Invitalia and supports large-scale investments in industry, tourism and environmental protection. The minimum investment required is EUR 20 million, which is reduced to EUR 7.5 million only for activities of first processing of agricultural products.
Regulatory reference: Budget Law 2022 (Law No 234/2021).