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I am a US citizen work remotely for a US-based multinational corporation. I will be visiting Italy for less than 6 weeks while visiting friends and doing research to start my own company. Do I need a work visa in order to work remotely for my US company (being paid in US currency deposited to my US bank account)? My work is only for US clients and in no way involves Italy or EU (other than the fact that I'm here, of course). I am not completely certain, but I believe that they do not have an office here in Italy.

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    Will the work done in Italy be subject to VAT? Even though it's all dollar based, the fact that you will be in Italy may mean VAT is due. – Gayot Fow Mar 29 '15 at 4:28
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Legally speaking you do.

Practically speaking, if you don't get a visa and don't tell the immigration officers that that's what you plan to do - there's a very low chance of being caught. That said, you will be breaking the law, and if someone tips about you to the authorities - you may be arrested and deported.

  • I don't think this is correct. I cannot find an obviously official Italian webpage in English, but the Italian Embassy in the US says non-resident visas can be issued for "professional trips" and this webpage says short-stay visa can be issued for business. – StrongBad Mar 30 '15 at 9:36
  • @StrongBad I wouldn't be certain just from the word "business". I know that word is used by the US for B-1 visas, and far as I can tell, they don't mean to include situations like the OP's in their concept of a "business trip". Italy I don't know. – Dan Getz Mar 30 '15 at 21:23
  • @StrongBad "business" and "work" are not the same. "Business" generally means meetings, consultations, or occasional on-site work (for debug, testing, integration, etc - things hard to do remotely). Setting up home office in the hotel room for months is not business - its work. – littleadv Mar 31 '15 at 5:32
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    @littleadv I like that distinction and it agrees with some of what I have read. It seems really silly that I cannot legally go on an international holiday with my family and work remotely a little bit while I am away. – StrongBad Mar 31 '15 at 12:38
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I am not an expert, what follows is based only on my understanding of the Italian Fiscal laws

I don't think you have to pay any tax in Italy if you are not resident in Italy for taxation purpose. For that you need to live and work in Italy for at least 6 months.

On the other hand you must pay taxes for what in Italian is called territorialità, that means locality. I don't think this is your case because as you said, your work doesn't involve Italy at all.


EDIT

To follow up @littleadv comment, I would like to point out that in Italy there are different type of residencies, I am referring to the "fiscal residency" called: domicilio fiscale link 1 link 2

Halfway through that page:

regarding people not resident, taxed at the source of their income, their "fiscal residency" is where they produce the most relevant part of their income

(the original part)

per le persone fisiche non residenti, tassate sulla base del principio della fonte, il domicilio fiscale è nel comune il cui è prodotta la parte prevalente del reddito.

P.S. Apologies for the links in Italian language only

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    That is incorrect. Earnings sourced to Italy (i.e.: earned while working in Italy) will be taxed by Italy regardless of residency status. Double taxation then comes into play in your home country (where you are resident), and you need to take credit for the taxes paid in Italy to avoid the double taxation. The location where the income is sourced has the first right to tax, residency has nothing to do with it. – littleadv Mar 31 '15 at 5:34
  • Note that this issue is distinct from the work permit/visa question. – Gala Mar 31 '15 at 15:32
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Have you heard of PT? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetual_traveler

Who says you can't work online for your home country while on a 90 days visa free stay in Chile, Brazil, etc?

The whole point concers tax. AS you already pay tax in your home country and do not stay more that 180 days a year in one country, you are considered not resident for tax purposes. Check expat forum and the laws in each country. In general any country where you can stay visa free less than 6 months is good. An you being an American, you are the only citizen in the world, apart from Eritreans, that pays tax based on nationality, so even if you wanted not to pay US tax, you could only do that by renouncing your US citizenship.

Read more about flag theory.

All the best!

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    "Who says" - the law. – littleadv Apr 2 '15 at 3:34

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