Italy’s ‘superbonus 110‘ has attracted plenty of international attention since it was first introduced in May 2020 to help restart Italy’s lagging, Covid-hit economy.
The building bonus offers homeowners a tax deduction of up to 110 percent the cost of renovation work related to making energy-efficiency upgrades and reducing seismic risk
But the popular scheme has been entangled in bureaucracy and delays, leaving many property owners trying to use it concerned about whether they’ll able to finish their renovation projects in time.
Although the government extended the scheme throughout 2022 and beyond, backlogs continue and the next, already extended, deadline is approaching.
Those really up against the clock are the owners of single-family homes, who must have completed 30 percent of the works by June 30th – the prerequisite to benefit from the bonus until December 31st 2022 and the ultimate deadline for this type of building.
With just under three months to go – a short timeframe in renovation terms, especially amid continuing delays – there are now calls for the bonus to be rolled on for this category until 2023.
How the superbonus might be extended
Although nothing has been confirmed or passed into law just yet, Italian media are abuzz with talk of an extension to the deadline for single-family homes.
According to reports of a government finance committee meeting at the end of March, assessments are ongoing to decide whether there is the need and how feasible it would be to roll on the scheme.
The deputy minister for economy and finance, Federico Freni, said, “The situation of expensive materials and in general legislation on this sector requires special attention,” according to property portal Idealista.
“The government can confirm that various ministries are considering the possibility of extending the June 30th deadline for the completion of at least 30 percent of the overall intervention,” he added.
It’s not yet known how much of the works would need to be done by when in the case of such an extension. However, some reports suggest that the June 30th deadline may be dropped altogether, with only the final deadline of December 31st 2022 remaining in place.
Why are there delays to accessing the bonus?
Interest in the scheme has been high from the start, so much so that delays began to build up early last year.
The backlog has only worsened, with some homeowners scrapping their plans to use the bonus as a result, or even selling on an old property they’d bought on the back of the scheme’s announcement.
Demand for the bonus has meant unprecedented demand for building companies, driving competition and putting more homeowners on ever-lengthening waiting lists.
Simply finding a building company and certain building professionals with any foreseeable availability is a challenge for some.
The rising expense of materials, as mentioned by Freni, has also played a part in slowing down access to the superbonus.
A worldwide boom in material prices, made even worse in Italy by enormous demand due to the popularity of the superbonus, has meant that some original quotes have sharply increased when building work actually gets underway.
This has effectively cancelled out the tax bonus, meaning some are simply no longer able to afford the renovations.
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The situation has continued to worsen due to the war in Ukraine, which has impeded the import and subsequently driven the cost of raw materials.
According to the president of the National Association of Building Contractors (Associazione Nazionale Costruttori Edili), Regina De Albertis, the price of iron for cement has gone up by 40 percent, as has bitumen.
“In addition to the increase, the delivery of materials has also become unpredictable,” she told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
“All of us builders have received a letter from our suppliers informing us that, in addition to double-digit increases, it is impossible to guarantee delivery times and that the price will be set when the materials arrive on site,” she added.
All in all, these factors have led to delays due to the time lost in bureaucracy when building plans have had to be redrawn or abandoned altogether, which in turn are holding up other projects in the queue.
Another recent cause for a further slowdown is the change in how people could access the bonus.
There have been various regulatory changes already in 2022 when it comes to the superbonus.
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Two ways to access the funds – transferring the credit (cessione del credito) or discount on the invoice (sconto in fattura) – have recently become stricter.
The changes came in response to vast amounts of fraudulent claims to the bonus, leading the government to introduce more clauses to the rules and complicate the bureaucracy even further.
These are the primary routes for most, as the final option of offsetting the tax from income is only financially viable for high earners.
Further delays have ensued due to the increasing difficulty of obtaining credit. There is also the risk that creditors consequently stop offering the option, potentially leaving many projects half-completed or dropped altogether.
When will the government make a decision on an extension?
Knowing that the bonus will be extended sooner rather than later would certainly help those in the middle of renovation delays right now.
Reports suggest that any decision to give single family homes a longer deadline would be included in the Document of Economy and Finance or ‘DEF’ (Il documento di economia e finanza) for 2022.
This outlines the government’s economic policy and sets fiscal targets, which legally, should be presented by April 10th.
Last year’s DEF update was published on April 15th.
However, time is getting tight as the Ministry of the Economy are behind schedule due to waiting for national GDP data, which was only released on Tuesday, according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
The aim was to have a clearer picture of the slowdown in growth caused by the war in Ukraine. The DEF is expected in the coming days with any new measures for businesses – and a decision on the superbonus extension – intended to be announced before Easter.
At this point however, it could now be the end of April before Italy’s Economy Minister Daniele Franco presents any plans.
For a breakdown of all the current superbonus deadlines for all property types, see here.
See more in The Local’s Italian property section.