VAT deduction on importation

Prepared by Lorenzo Ontano, Luca Ghelli, Andrea Casalini and Matteo Zovi

As of last November 30, the Italian Customs Authority, as part of the re-engineering project of the electronic import clearance system, announced the definitive dismissal of the IM message in favor of the new telematic tracks for the transmission of the customs declarations.

The implementation of the above-mentioned telematic tracks means that the customs declaration is originated by the exchange data through electronic messages. Therefore, the Single Administrative Document (i.e. SAD) is not available anymore.

In addition to the impacts from a customs perspective, the novelty under discussion could lead to some issues with reference to the deduction of the import VAT. Indeed, article 25 of the Presidential Decree no. 633/1972 (i.e. Italian VAT Law) establishes that “the taxpayer must record in the appropriate register the invoices and customs bills related to the goods and services purchased or imported in the furtherance of the business, trade or professional activities, including those issued pursuant to Article 17, second paragraph, prior to the periodic settlement, in which the right of the respective tax deduction is exercised and in any case within the deadline for the submission of the annual return regarding the year of receipt of the invoice and with reference to the same year”.

In other words, despite the evolution of the processes and the technology has brought to a dematerialization of the import declaration, the VAT provisions still refers to the “customs bill”, which, however, is no longer available.

In order to deduct the import VAT, operators must therefore download a new document from their reserved area on the Italian Customs Authority webs portal called “prospetto di riepilogo ai fini contabili”, in PDF format.

As clarified by the Italian Tax Authority with the Ruling no. 417/2022, documents other than the latter (e.g. “courtesy documents” issued by forwarding agents or customs brokers) cannot be used in this respect.

However, despite the guidance provided, which identifies this document as the document to be used (i.e. registered) for the purposes of VAT deduction, a critical issue still pending regards the identification of the moment when traders can claim their right to deduct VAT on importation.

At this time, indeed, there are no official guidelines from the Italian Tax Authority if this should be identified with the date in which the document in question is generated by the Italian Customs Authority, or the date in which the importer downloads this latter from the web portal.

Although the first thesis would seem to be the most correct, since according to the second one the dies a quo to deduct the import VAT would be at the discretion of the taxpayer, it is worth pointing out that the only date shown on the “prospetto di riepilogo ai fini contabili” is the one on which this latter is downloaded.

This matter becomes crucial especially with reference to imports carried out in the last days of the year. Consider the case where a person has made an import in December 2022 but has downloaded the “prospetto di riepilogo ai fini contabili” in January 2023. In this case, it is unclear whether it is possible to deduct the VAT relating to this importation in the 2022 annual VAT return or, since the document was downloaded in 2023, whether the VAT can be deducted in the 2023 annual VAT return (i.e. by April 30, 2023).

Given this situation of uncertainty, in order to proceed with the timely deduction of the import VAT and avoid the risk of going beyond the expiry date, it is crucial for operators to make use of automated tools to proceed with the immediate download of the “prospetti di riepilogo ai fini contabili”, especially in case of a high turnover arising from import operations.

In this regard, PwC TLS Avvocati & Commercialisti, in collaboration with the Digital Innovation team of PwC Business Services, has implemented a solution to meet this necessity.

Specifically, by means of a specific designed software, the Firm is able to provide its clients with:

  • massive download of the “prospetti di riepilogo ai fini contabili” related to all the imports carried out during the relevant period (i.e. the download of the documents may also cover previous fiscal periods);
  • the automated sharing of the documents under discussion through the use of a sharing  platform;
  • the provision of an editable summary file containing all the data need to keep proper VAT accounting and, consequently, deduct the relevant import VAT.

Furthermore, it is worth pointing out that the same activities can be carried out with regard to the so-called “prospetti di sintesi”, the documents that contain all the information previously reported on the SADs.

Let’s Talk

For a deeper discussion, please contact:

Lorenzo Ontano

PwC TLS Avvocati e Commercialisti


Luca Ghelli

PwC TLS Avvocati e Commercialisti