Thursday, February 20, 2014

A ruckus over 20% tax

There are many new things to learn about living in Italy, and one of them is how to assimilate into, and make sense of, our place in the ex-pat community.  Ex-pat is a word many object to, in that it implies a social class that differenciates ex-pats from immigrants. Although I am aware of the class distinction, for clarity I will use the word ex-pats.  So. Our ex-pat community here is mainly made up of English people who have lived in Umbria for a long time.  Most of them live out in the country, up in the hills above the Niccone Valley.  They are a fairly tight community and pass on information to one another, provide security warnings, and generally keep one another apprised of the events that are happening in the community.

We are on the peripheral of this group, not being English, not living up in the hills with kids in school, and not living here long.  This past week we were included in a bit of a wild fire ruckus in the ex-pat community regarding taxes. It seems that the former prime minister, Letti, before his departure from office, passed a law that said that any money transferred in from outside of Italy, would be subjected to a 20% withholding tax that the bank would impose and collect on the wire transfer. The reasoning of the government was that there are many ex-pats who are not paying money on investments made abroad, and it would be the job of the bank to withhold the 20% and then people would have to document at the end of the year, that the money should not have been with held.  Hope you followed that.  The US has a trade agreement with Italy that we are not subject to double taxation. So if we pay 20% capital gains tax on our investments in the US we should not have to pay the 20% here.  Now a big however, if you are a resident of Italy, which the Stoic One will be this year, you must pay Italian tax, and then deduct that from your US tax.  Oh, mamma can see the cost of accountants going up now.  Everyone was in a tizzy about this.  The Italians said, the law will never change, you will have to pay your 20% and they will never give you your money back in your life time.  I believed them.

So I called the best financial advisor in the world, Will Wolf (
and asked him about all of this.  We had an hour of financial therapy. I felt so much better talking to him.  Then this morning, miracle of miracles, the Italians "suspended" the law requiring the 20% hold back.  We live in a strange, global world.

Speaking of strange...

 Cigarette smoking reducing fertility should be the least of the negative effects, but I guess this is more scary than lung cancer!

Monday, February 17, 2014


We have had a lot of rain this February.  The local people have said it is 'unusual".  I am giving up on the whole usual or unusual bit as far as weather is concerned.  The weather we have is what we have and ours has been very wet!

You are looking at one of Umbertide's claim to fame.  It is where the Reggia (stream, now more like a raging river) goes into the Tiber River. Watching the river is one of the major passtimes of the old dudes, right up there next to playing cards.

We have another little river in the area called the Niccone.  It also overflowed its bank because of a landslide.

In this picture, you can see that there is a green bridge that is no longer functional.  The road washed out and with it the bridge.  The road went to an abandonded house that had been left as a memorial to the family that lived there that was killed by the Nazis at the end of WWII.  It also looks like the farmer's cabbage field may be a little soggy!

Just when you think the sun will never shine again, we are greeted with this scene.

This is the Tiber river, now calm.  The sun came out, and all was well once again.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

New friends, new projects

I am so very happy.  Our new friends, Nancy and Luther, have decided to buy an apartment in the Centro Storico of Umbertide. We are so excited to have new people who choose to live here.  I met Nancy through this blog! She emailed me, told me about her desire to retire in Italy, and we agreed to meet.  It was as if we had been friends forever.  Such a great feeling.

They live in Virginia.  He worked in IT for IBM and she worked as a web designer.  They lived in Germany for many years, so the shock of living in Italy should not be too severe. I have really missed having female friends here, so I am very excited to have them join our community.

Nancy writes a blog that I encourage you to read.  It is about her househunting experiences here in Umbria.

The Stoic One and I have resumed our Italian classes.  This means we go to Perugia Mon. Wed. Friday.  We decided we couldn't go every day, as it was just too much.  Our teachers are as charming as usual, and I see no way around it but to learn the subjunctive tense.  I have been dancing around that tense for years now, but I think I am finally ready to attempt it.

We have had loads of rain here, but I am not going to weather complain.  We are so lucky compared to many other places in the world.

My latest idea is that I would like to write a book about Umbertide and World War II.  There was a bomb that was dropped on the town on April 25, 1944.  There is a historian in town who has written several books about the subject.  He is 94 years old, and still quite lucid so they say.  I have all of my questions ready, in Italian, and am ready to meet with him.  Wish me luck.

Here is Luca in his latest sweater.  I think this is the favorite of the town's people.  They call him "elegante" when he walks by.