Self Employed Americans in Italy - Read Carefully!
Like many other western countries, Italy has a Totalization agreement with the US. Amongst other things, what this means in plain English is that if you pay into the social security system of the foreign country as a self-employed individual, you do not have to pay into the U.S. system as well. Ie - you won’t have to pay U.S. Self employment tax.
What makes Italy different, is that this only applies to Italian citizens. Non-citizens of Italy must pay into the US Social security system. Exemption from SECA tax for self-employed US citizens/green card holders residing in Italy is granted only to Italian citizens.
Non-citizens of Italy must pay self-employment to the US Social Security system. Most people make contributions to the Italian social security system (INPS) - to receive social benefits and medical coverage - yet, those contributions cannot be claimed for exemption from US SECA tax Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA) - unless the taxpayer is a citizen of Italy.
Note - even if you are a dual citizen, you must still properly account for this exemption on your U.S. tax return.
If you are not looking to become an Italian citizen and are self-employed, it may be helpful to look into incorporating your business. Please read our tax guide for foreign corporations.