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Editor in chief: Angelo Scorza
06/05/19 11:14

Requirements and advantages of registered innovative SMEs

PKF Studio TCL explains the requirements and the main advantages granted to innovative SMEs listed in the special section of the Business Register

The legislator in order to support the Italian entrepreneurial structure, by law n. 33 of March 24th 2015, identified the compulsory requirements for innovative SMEs willing to list in the “special section” of the Italian Companies House (Camera di Commercio), with the purpose to extend the incentives, to be applied to innovative startups, even to the innovative SMEs. The Innovative PMI Observatory report for the year 2018 shows that are less than one thousand the companies registered in the special section of the Business Register; the reason? The advantages provided for innovative SMEs are not well known and encouraged.

The following conditions shall be respected to be considered as an innovative SME: the company cannot be listed on the regulated markets, the last financial statements shall be certified by a statutory auditor, the annual turnover shall range between 5 and 50 million Euro, and the employees number shall not be over to 250.

SMEs willing to be classified as “innovative” must respect at least two of the following parameters: i) the 3% of costs shall be related to R&D activities; ii) and in terms of qualified workforce, in particular, the law establishes the minimum employees threshold that shall hold a master's degree (1/3 of the employees) or a PhD (1/5 of the employees) with at least 3 years of certified scientific research; iii) owning a patent.

Innovative SMEs, as well as start-ups, are not required to pay the annual fee due in favor of the Companies House for fulfilling the obligations of the Business Register, if they are incorporated as ltd they can take advantage of flexible corporate law typical of joint-stock companies, they can remunerate staff with equity incentive plans such as stock options granted with tax exemption, in addition, in the event of systematic losses, innovative SMEs enjoy a one-year moratorium for the settlement of losses greater than 1/3 of the share capital and they are not subject to the regulation of shell companies.The government in order to support development and economic growth stated the following tax benefits: tax credit on incremental R&D expenses; patent box, a 50% tax exemption to apply on income generated using intangible assets (industrial patents, software, know-how, designs or models), hyper and super-amortization last but not least the “voucher-manager”, that is grants recognized for the purchase of consulting services aimed at supporting technological and digital transformation processes. In particular for the innovative SMEs the law envisaged the facilitated access to the “Central Guarantee Fund”, which releases guarantees to secure bank loans.

Natural persons who decide to invest in innovative SMEs can take advantage of a 40% tax credit calculated on the total investment; on the other hand legal entities are entitled to a 40% corporate tax deduction.

The 2019 Budget law provided the establishment of a 1 billion fund to support the technological innovation among Italian innovative companies. The new fund, managed by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), will operate through Venture Capital, selecting and financing the most attractive innovative SMEs.


Stefano Quaglia

Fabrizio Moscatelli

PKF Studio TCL - Tax Consulting Legal

Genoa – Milan




VAT regime applicable to hulls purchases for the construction of ships used for offshore navigation


According to Article 8 bis of Presidential Decree No. 633/1972 the sale of ships is not subjected to VAT, thus it seems appropriate to analyze whether or not the purchases of hulls are relevant for VAT purposes.

The chapter 89 of EU Regulation No. 1602/2018 (which relates to the import customs duties nomenclature) reports that: "A hull, an unfinished or incomplete vessel, assembled, unassembled or disassembled, or a complete vessel unassembled or

disassembled, is to be classified in heading 8906 if it does not have the essential character of a vessel of a particular kind".

Therefore, considering the Revenue Agency practices and the aforementioned customs comparison between vessels and hulls, it is possible to assume hulls are not relevant for VAT purposes. Anyway it is necessary that hulls are directly used for the construction of ships, destined to offshore navigation, for passengers transport or for commercial and industrial purposes.

Based on the resolutions of the Revenue Agency n. 2/2017 and n. 59/2017 a ship is considered destined to offshore navigation if in the previous year it carried out more than 70% of journeys beyond 12 nautical miles.

Therefore if the ship is under construction, the ship-owner must provide a declaration attesting that once the ship is complete it will serve the purpose of offshore navigation.


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