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Meal vouchers, no withholding even in “smart working” mode

by Arianna De Carlo | Apr 27, 2021 | Blog

Over the past year, we have changed many habits. Among the sectors that have been most affected by the new organization is work, which has become increasingly “remote”. Smart working remains widely used by private employers as well, with a growing number of companies intending to maintain the option in the post-Covid era.


How does it differ from on-site work?

Presidential Decree no. 917 of 1986 (“Tuir”) provides that the following do not contribute to the formation of the employee’s income: “the supply of food by the employer as well as those in canteens organized directly by the employer or managed by third parties; the services in lieu of the supply of food up to the total daily amount of € 4, increased to € 8 in the event that the same are made in electronic form.”

The regulation distinguishes three hypotheses of food administration:

(a) management, also through third parties, of a canteen by the employer;

b) the provision of services replacing company canteens (e.g. meal vouchers);

c) the payment of a sum in lieu of canteen allowance.

With the exception of hypothesis a), which excludes the emergence of an employee’s income, in the other modes of supplying food, on the other hand, the income relevance of the same is foreseen, albeit to a different extent.

In its reply to questioning no. 123/E/2021, the Italian Tax Authority, in the absence of provisions limiting the payment by employers of meal vouchers in favour of their employees, considers that the partial taxation regime provided for by the Consolidated Income Tax Act is applicable to such services in lieu of canteen service, regardless of the structure of working hours and the manner in which work is carried out.

Therefore, also in respect of smart working employees, the employer is not required to operate the withholding tax on the value of meal vouchers up to 4 euros, if paper, or 8 euros, if electronic.

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