IMU on uninhabited and uninhabitable second homes: do you pay?


Emma Potter

The single municipal tax (IMU) represents one of the most significant tax obligations for property owners in Italy. The distinction between the main residence, which is exempt from IMU unless it falls into the luxury categories, and other types of properties, underlines the importance of understanding in detail who is required to pay the IMU and in what circumstances.

Particularly interesting is the question ofIMU on the second homeespecially when this is uninhabited. Recent jurisprudence and tax regulations offer ideas for interpretations and applications that can significantly impact owners' tax obligations.

This article aims to clarify the contours of this tax obligation, exploring the conditions of unusability or uninhabitability of properties and the situations in which it is possible to benefit from tax exemptions or reductions.

What is IMU and who is required to pay it

The IMU, or single municipal tax, is a tax applied to owned properties, the rate and tax base of which vary depending on the characteristics of the property and the municipality in which it is located. Introduced to provide municipal revenue, the IMU is configured as a local tax that partially replaces previous property taxes.

Categories of properties subject to IMU

Owners of properties other than “first homes”, with the exception of those classified in the luxury categories (A/1, A/8, A/9), are required to pay the IMU. Included in this category are:

  • Buildings used as second homes;
  • Properties for use other than residential, such as shops or offices;
  • Agricultural land and building areas.

Obliged subjects

Not only the owners, but also those who hold real rights on the properties (usufruct, use, habitation, emphyteusis, surface) are required to pay.

Particular situations, such as the granting of luxury homes following separation or divorce, or financial leasing, imply the obligation to pay the IMU even for subjects other than the direct owners.

Exemptions and reductions: the issue of IMU on second homes

An issue of great importance for taxpayers concerns the conditions under which it is possible to benefit from exemptions or reductions on the IMU for the second home. Tax legislation provides for specific situations in which tax may not be due or may be reduced, helping to modulate the tax burden based on particular circumstances.

Second home and exemption from IMU

There sentence no. 209 of 3 October 2022 of the Constitutional Court introduced an important principle: the IMU on the second home is not due if the property is used as the main residence by one of the spouses, for example for work reasons.

This ruling expanded the definition of main residenceconsidering as such the place where the taxable person has his registered residence and habitual residence, regardless of the situation of the other members of the family.

To benefit from this exemption, it is necessary to demonstrate actual habitation in both properties and the legitimacy of separate residences.

Unusability and uninhabitability: reduction of the IMU

Another aspect of great interest is represented by the possibility of halving the IMU for buildings declared unusable or uninhabitable and in fact not used. To access this reduction, it is essential that the property simultaneously meets two conditions: it must be effectively unusable or uninhabitable and it must not be used in any way (neither as a home nor for other purposes).

The unusability or uninhabitability of the property must be ascertained by an appraisal from the municipal technical office or by a substitute declaration from a qualified technician.

The documentation necessary for reductions

To benefit from IMU reductions or exemptions, taxpayers must present specific documentation certifying the conditions of unusability, uninhabitability or the use of the property as a main residence in particular cases. The correct presentation of this evidence is essential to access the tax relief provided by law.

Evidence of the main residence

In the case of IMU exemption for the second house used as the main residence by one of the spouses, it is necessary to present documents proving both registered residence and habitual residence in the second property.

These may include proof of residence, household utility bills that demonstrate actual consumption and documents that attest to the presence of the family unit, such as the choice of GP.

Documentation for unusability or uninhabitability

For the reduction of the IMU on buildings declared unusable or uninhabitable, a technical expertise which certifies the condition of the property. This report can be drawn up by the municipal technical office or by a qualified technician, at the owner's expense. Alternatively, it is possible to present a substitute declaration certifying the conditions of unusability or uninhabitability, always supported by adequate technical documentation.

The presentation of this evidence is a crucial step to guarantee the recognition of tax breaks on the IMU, avoiding disputes and misunderstandings with the municipal administration. Therefore, it is advisable to rely on professionals in the sector for the preparation and presentation of the necessary documentation.