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The taxation of savings: the Italian system and international comparison

After a brief review of the economic literature, the paper offers a comparative analysis of the main features of capital income taxation in Italy, the EU and the US. The paper also analyses the recent evolution of capital taxation and portfolio allocation in Italy. The findings point to high heterogeneity in the choice of the type of tax system, taxation level and forms of preferential taxation, suggesting no convergence towards a single model of taxation among countries. However, a common feature of most systems is that capital income is taxed more lightly than labour income. The heterogeneity in the tax treatment of households’ savings is likely to persist in the future; recent developments at international level concerning the transparency of taxation are expected to increase governments’ degrees of freedom in choosing their preferred tax system. Empirical evidence for Italy suggests that the tax burden on financial assets has increased in recent years but the evolution of financial assets over time is not particularly sensitive to tax changes.