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So, what did you think when you read the title ‘L’ICI?  Lice?  Itch?  Well, in a way both are correct, since  L’ICI (pronounced leach’-eee) has been a pesky little problem that’s been driving us nuts.

Rapallo coat of arms

The ICI (eetchy!) is Italy’s real estate tax.  We’ve always been thrilled at how small it is compared to what we’re accustomed to paying in the U.S., where such taxes generally pay for public education.  I’m not sure what the ICI pays for here – it is a tax imposed by the commune (the town), and is used for ‘services.’  It seems to me that we are already taxed for just about every service we receive (garbage, TV, etc.), but I digress.

When we first bought our house we went to the Tribute Office where such things are paid, and asked how much we owed.  Perish the thought that a taxing body should actually prepare and send a bill!  No.  It is up to the tax-payer to a) know that there is a tax due, b) know how much it is and c) know where, when and how to pay it.  Okay.  We can and have learned this stuff, and keep a careful calendar so we won’t miss any payments.  The trick we never mastered was knowing how much to pay, so each year we went to the office and they were nice enough to tell us.  Sort of.

Last year we received a certified letter that we had to pick up an important document at the Tribute.  It turned out that since 2002 we had been paying an incorrect amount, on two counts.  First, we were paying as if our house were still a rustico instead of a restructured habitation (in spite of the fact that our geometra filed the correct forms informing the commune of the change) and second, only the Captain’s share of the tax had been paid, and that was only half of what was owed.  So we owed in excess of E 800.  They were nice enough to understand that these were honest mistakes (and not just ours), so the accrued penalties and interest were set aside.  Grudgingly we paid – yet another unexpected and large expense.  We still don’t understand why the office didn’t give us the correct amounts due each year when we trudged in to ask.

L’ICI for primary homes was abolished beginning last year (thank you, Mr. Berlusconi), which means we no longer pay.  Only businesses and those who own more than one home now have to pay.  But the ICI wasn’t finished with us, not yet.  We received a note this year telling us that we had not paid for 2002.  We hauled out the many forms and receipts left over from last year’s adventure and discovered that in fact we had nothing to show we’d paid more than the original incorrect amount in 2002.  So back the Captain went to the Tribute Office, gathered all the materials and, once again, we will be making an unexpected tax payment.

We shouldn’t complain, I suppose.  It is still way, way less than Americans pay annually in property taxes.  It’s just the inefficiency of it all that drives us crazy.  They probably never would have cottoned to the errors if the tax on primary residence hadn’t been abolished, but now I guess the workers in the Tribute office have time on their hands.

This should be the end of our ICI Adventure, but you just never know in Italy.  These things have a strange way of being resurrected at the most inopportune times.