In decision no. 23674 of 24 September 2019, the Italian Supreme Court (Corte Suprema di Cassazione) (the “Court”) ruled that, in cases where non-EU goods are released for free circulation in Italy, the person responsible for the customs declaration cannot be considered liable for the omitted payment of the VAT due at the time the goods are withdrawn from the warehouse. 

Additionally, the Court clarified that the entity in charge of assessing and collecting import VAT is the Italian Tax Authority (the “ITA”). For efficiency reasons, the role is covered by the Italian Customs Agency only in cases where goods are released for free circulation and for consumption at the same time. 

Conversely, when these two moments diverge (e.g. when goods are deposited in a customs warehouse), the ITA is the only competent entity for the assessment and collection of the VAT due at the time the goods are released for consumption and the only person liable for the payment of VAT is the one who withdraws the goods from the warehouse.