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Main house: what is it? What benefits?

The main house: what it is and how it differs from the concept of the first home. All the indications for the taxation of the main house and its appurtenances.

In this article, we will analyze the tax rules regarding the taxpayer’s primary residence. The possession of a property classified as a principal residence allows several advantages that we will see below.

The starting point for this analysis is Article 10, paragraph 3-bis of the TUIR. This article states that:

“if the income of the real estate unit used as a principal residence and that of the relative appurtenances is included in the total IRPEF income, an amount up to the amount of the cadastral income of the real estate unit itself and the relative appurtenances is deducted, in proportion to the period of the year during which this use subsists and in proportion to the quota of possession of said real estate unit.”

This deduction is applied exclusively to principal residences and relative appurtenances not subject to IMU, whose income contributes to the formation of total revenue for IRPEF purposes.

From 1.1.2014, the IMU is no longer due to principal residences and their appurtenances, except for “luxury” real estate units, registered in the categories:

  • A/1 (stately homes);
  • A/8 (dwellings in villas);
  • A/9 (castles, palaces of eminent artistic or historical merit).

The IMU must be paid for the latter, while IRPEF and related additional taxes are not due.

Definition of a principal residence

The main house is the one in which the natural person, who owns it by way of ownership or another fundamental right, or his family members (spouse, relatives within the third degree, and relatives-in-law within the second degree) live habitually.

The taxpayer who owns a right in rem on the property where he lives is entitled to an IRPEF deduction.

The deduction is also available if you move your usual residence following permanent hospitalization in a shelter or health institution, provided that the property is not rented.


Under art. 817 of the Italian Civil Code, immovable property classified or classifiable in categories other than residential use is considered an appurtenance.

For example:

  • C/2 – Warehouses and storage premises;
  • C/6 – Stables, stables, sheds, garages and
  • C/7 – Closed or open roofs), intended for and used permanently to serve the building units used as individuals’ primary residence.

The aspect related to the appurtenances of the principal dwelling is also associated with IMU. This is because, in addition to the main home, one property classified as an appurtenance for each category is also exempt from IMU.

Effects of the introduction of IMU

In addition to ICI, IMU has replaced the real estate component, IRPEF, and the related additional taxes due to income from real estate not leased.

Properties granted on a gratuitous basis are included in the IRPEF substitution. On this point, see Circ. Min. Economia e Finanze 18.5.2012 no. 3/DF and Circ. Agenzia delle Entrate 11.3.2013 no. 5. See “Income from buildings.”

However, about non-rented properties located in the same Municipality where the taxpayer’s principal residence is situated, IMU must be paid and 50% of IRPEF and related additional taxes due concerning land income.

A principal residence and “first home”

The current legislation on the first home relief no longer requires that the buyer use the property as the principal residence.

It follows that, at present, the first home benefit is not linked to the concept of “principal residence.” So much so that, for example, a property rented to third parties can benefit from the benefit, as specified in Ministerial Circular 2.3.94 no. 1, § 3.

While the concept of “principal residence” requires that the taxpayer materially lives and resides anagrafically in the property, the idea of “first home” is independent.

It requires, among other conditions, that the taxpayer (ignoring the particular cases in which the buyer is transferred or emigrated abroad), has its residence in the Municipality where the property is located or undertakes to reposition it within 18 months, or carries out its activities in the city where the property is located.

The coincidence of abode and registered residence

To qualify a property as a main home for IMU and TASI, it is necessary that its owner and his family unit, at the same time:

  • habitual residence;
  • have their registered residence

Therefore, to benefit from the favorable rules that provide for the exclusion from IMU and TASI for the main house (except for those stacked in categories A/1, A/8, and A/9), are relevant only the situations of coincidence of the registered residence than the habitual residence.

Residence of household members in different properties

If the household members have established their habitual residence and registered office in different properties located in the same Municipality, the benefits for the main house and the relative appurtenances about the household are applied for one property only.

If the husband lives and resides in building A and the wife lives and resides in building B, both located in the Municipality of Turin, the exemption from IMU and TASI (except for the real estate units stacked in A/1, A/8, and A/9) applies to one property only, as chosen by the taxpayers.

As specified by the Ministry of Economics and Finance in the answers 20.1.2014, the favorable tax regime applies to both properties when the spouses have established the main house in two different municipalities.

Suppose the husband lives and resides in property A located in the Municipality of Aosta, and the wife lives and resides in property B located in the Municipality of Turin. In that case, both properties are exempt from IMU and TASI (except for property units registered as A/1, A/8, and A/9).

The uniqueness of the building unit

The main dwelling must consist of a single property unit registered or registerable in the Land Registry.

Therefore, if the owner and his family live habitually and officially reside in a house consisting of two units separately stacked but used as a unit (e.g., two adjoining apartments), for IMU (as well as for the TASI) can be considered as the main house only one of these units, until it is made the merger by cadastral:

  • Uniform registration in the Land Registry of the resulting property unit;
  • Attribution to it of a single annuity.

Even if partially rented, the main dwelling does not lose that use.

As clarified by the answers, Min. Economy and Finance 20.1.2014 the owner of the main house that rents some rooms to students benefits from the IMU exemption from 1.1.2014.

Limitation of IMU for the main house

As of 2014, IMU is not due for principal residences and relative appurtenances, except for “luxury” real estate units, registered in the categories:

  • A/1 (stately homes),
  • A/8 (dwellings in villas),
  • A/9 (castles, palaces of outstanding artistic or historical value) (art. 13, par. 2 of Decree-Law 201/2011).

Property received by inheritance

Still, on the subject of family relationships, another particular case concerns the property inherited. According to article 540 of the Civil Code, when the house that constituted the marital home is inherited, the surviving spouse has the right of habitation.

In this case, the position of the other heirs, for example, the children, is comparable to that of the bare owner. The surviving spouse is responsible for all tax obligations, and if he or she lives in the house, it will be exempt from municipal taxes. The surviving spouse remains liable even if he or she does not live in the property. In this case, the house will be subject to taxation.

If the property fell into the succession burdened the right of ownership of third parties, the right of residence would operate pro rata on the portion of the property that fell into series. Consequently, the third party, already the shareowner before succession, should pay municipal taxes according to the ordinary rules.

The main dwelling partially rented

In the FAQ 20.1.2014 n. 12, the Ministry of Economic and Finance has clarified that even if partially rented, the main house does not lose this destination. Therefore, from 1.1.2014, benefits from the IMU exemption provided for this case.

Therefore, unlike the clarifications previously provided in Circular 18.5.2012, no. 3/DF (§ 13), it should be possible to consider that the main house partially rented is exempt from IMU in any case.

Similar considerations should apply to the TASI, given the uniqueness of the definition of principal residence and considering that since 2016 there is also an exemption for this tax (excluding properties classified in A/1, A/8, and A/9). On this point, however, official clarifications would be appropriate.

Taxable Imu and Tasi 50% for the loan to children

In the case of a gratuitous loan to children of non-luxury houses, the rules of applying municipal taxes (IMU and TASI) provide for the reduction to half of the taxable amount in the presence of precise legal conditions as amended by Law No. 208/2015.

First, from a subjective point of view, they must be relatives in a straight line up to the first degree, including only parents and children. Second, the owner must not own any other property, except for the main house, the possession of which therefore does not affect the benefit.

In any case, the bailor must have his registry residence in the same Municipality where the bailed unit is located. From a literal point of view, the IMU regulations qualify as real estate, buildings, and building areas, and agricultural land. It follows that the possession of even just a share of agricultural land, perhaps received by inheritance, prevents the tax discount. To avoid this possibility, the Ministry of Finance has held that real estate should be understood as only buildings for residential use.

For example, the simultaneous possession of the house on loan and an unspecified number of shops, offices, and building areas does not result in the loss of the reduction. In addition, the borrower must use the property as his main home, which means that he must reside there and live there regularly.

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