Among the innovative activities eligible for the tax credit governed by the Budget Law 2020 (L. 160/2019), there are also design and aesthetic conception activities. In the new regulatory framework, in fact, the objective scope of the cases eligible for the tax credit is no longer limited to research and development activities only, but has been extended, also to design and aesthetic conception activities, provided that the requirement of novelty and significance (and of “non-repetitiveness”) and all the other conditions of law are always met.
Companies investing in these activities will benefit from a 10 % tax credit up to a maximum of 2 million euros, which can be used in three annual instalments starting from the period following that in which the investment is made.
Specifically, paragraph 202 of article 1 of the Establishing Law stated that eligible innovative businesses include design and aesthetic conception activities carried out by companies, attracting into the scope of application of the benefit also activities, other than those of research and development and technological innovation, which have as their object innovations linked in a general way to the external or aesthetic appearance of products or in any case not linked to functional or technological elements of the products.
The Ministry of Economic Development, with the “Transition 4.0” decree, has provided the criteria and instructions for the correct application of the tax credit for such innovative activities, declining in a general way the criteria and concepts relevant for the identification of the relevant works for the purposes of eligibility for the tax credit, through the general reference to the same concepts valid within the industrial property code for the registration of designs and models (DL 30/2005).
Therefore, work aimed at significantly innovating the company’s products in terms of form and other non-technical and functional elements (such as the characteristics of the lines, contours, colors, surface structure, ornaments, etc.) falls within the category of eligible activities, considering that by product is meant any industrial or artisan object, including the components of complex products, packaging, presentations, graphic symbols and typographical characters. It is also specified, in line with the application of the tax credit also for the other cases of research and development and technological innovation, that the eligible activities concern only the precompetitive phase that ends with the realization of samples not intended for sale.
The tax credit aims to facilitate innovative design activities that distinguish the Italian economic fabric and, in particular, products and graphic symbols related to the so-called “Made in Italy”. In fact, the range of eligible expenses includes, by way of example but not limited to, the creation of a trademark (graphic symbol) or, in the specific case of companies operating in the fashion sector and other sectors in which the renewal at regular intervals of the products is provided for, the works related to the conception and realization of new collections or samples that present elements of novelty compared to the previous ones with regard to the fabrics or materials used, to their combination, to the designs and shapes, to the colors or other relevant elements.