Employment Income and reimbursement of expenses for the purchase of laptops/tablets and school entrance tests: Inland Revenue clarifications

21 June 2022

In its answer to question no. 294 of 24 May 2022, the Inland Revenue clarified the employers’ ability to reimburse employees belonging to the “transferred employees” category for the expenses incurred for the purchase of laptops/tablets and entrance tests taken by their children to attend Italian educational institutions. In the answer provided, this reimbursement was particularly relevant when calculating income under Article 51, paragraph 2, letter f-bis, of Presidential Decree no.  917 of 22 December 1986 (Consolidated Law on Income Tax or “TUIR“).

Regulatory references

Art. 51, paragraph 1 of the Consolidated Law on Income Tax (TUIR) defines the all-inclusiveness principle, based on which “all sums and valuables in general, received for any reason during the tax period, including as donations, related to employment” constitute employment income.

Accordingly, cash and values corresponding to the goods, services and works offered by the employer to its employees are considered taxable income and are included in the employment income calculation.

However, the same Article 51, in the following paragraphs, identifies the income components that derogate from the all-inclusiveness principle and are not part of the employee’s income taxable base. Paragraph 2 provides that the following is not part of the employment income:

  • “using the works and services provided by the employer voluntarily or under contractual provisions or company agreements or regulations, offered to all employees or categories of employees and family members specified in Article 12 for the purposes referred to in Article 100 paragraph 1” (Article 51, paragraph 2, letter f) of the TUIR);
  • “the sums, services and benefits paid by the employer to all employees or categories of employees for their family members specified in Article 12, for education and instruction services, including pre-school education, supplementary and canteen services, for the attendance of playgrounds, summer and winter centres and for scholarships” (Article 51, paragraph 2, letter f-bis), of the TUIR).

Considering the above and the issues clarified by the tax authority in its resolution no. 37/E of 27 May 2021, it was specified that the legislation made it possible for the employer to provide education and instruction services, directly or through third parties, and pay employees for the purposes specified, by reimbursing the expenses incurred for family members under Article 12 of the TUIR.

Disbursement conditions

For the sums and values in question to be, in whole or in part, de-taxed, it is necessary that the offer be addressed to “all employees” or “categories of employees.”

“Categories of employees” means that general works, services or sums are available to the same group of employees, even if some do not benefit from them.

The Agency stated that the expression “categories of employees” is not intended to identify the categories provided for by the Italian Civil Code (managers, workers, etc.). The wording refers to employees of a “specific group”, such as, employees of a certain level or qualification, employees transferred abroad or night-shift workers.

It was repeatedly specified that the conditio sine qua non for the exclusion of these benefits from the income calculation is that they cannot apply to individual employees or ad personam (see Inland Revenue Circulars 23 December 1997, no. 326 and 15 June 2016, no. 28/E).

The Inland Revenue recalled:

  • resolution no. 37/E of 27 May 2021, which stated that the reimbursement granted to the employee for the expenses incurred (i) for the purchase of PCs, laptops and tablets as necessary tools, under school regulations, (ii) to benefit from education and instruction services, or (iii) to ensure attendance in the “virtual classroom”, is not part of the employment income, and
  • Resolution no. 378/E of 17 December 2007, where “expatriates” or “assignees”, i.e., employees transferred to foreign countries, were treated as the same group of employees, similarly, “transferred employees” can be considered a “category of employees.”


According to the Inland Revenue, the reimbursement by the employer of expenses incurred by employees who fall into the “transferred employees” category for the purchase of laptops/tablets, is not part of the employment income. The reimbursement of enrolment costs for child entrance tests for enrolment in educational institutions does not generate employment income. This is because such reimbursement may be part of the expenses incurred for school attendance.

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