Setting up an associate firm: legal responsibility

The associate firm , after its establishment, has the legal capacity to conclude mandatory contracts. However, as anticipated, at the level of professional responsibility, the relationship is established exclusively between the individual member and the customer himself.

In practice, in fact, the professional service requested by the client can be performed directly by the individual member.

The professional fee for this service is paid directly by the association which, vis-à-vis third parties, represents a center of attribution of interests .

The professional relationship between the professional and the client remains individual, and is formally regularized by means of a letter of appointment , which defines the type of service requested by the client for the study.

The associates of the firm
In recent years, the presence of both ” members ” and ” associates ” has been noted in many acts of constituting professional associations .

In practice, according to the Anglo-Saxon experience, the founding professionals of the association are referred to by the term ” members “. Founding members to whom more rights are usually reserved, compared to the ” associates “, which normally consist of young professionals.

The fiscal discipline of an associate firm
From a fiscal point of view, the opening of the associated office requires the opening of the VAT number at the competent Revenue Agency for the area. This is the fundamental prerequisite for starting the business.

Next to the opening of the VAT number it is necessary to proceed with the choice of the ATECO code to use. In this case, the ATECO code is linked to the professional activity carried out by the firm, which necessarily derives from the professional activity of the individual members that compose it.

The income of the associated firm
The income produced by the associated firm cannot be classified as business income, but rather as self-employment income . The first step in determining the income is to identify the income of the professional association.

The income and fees of the professional association are received directly by the association and the participation fees . In an association between professionals, the profits are presumed to be proportionate to the value of the contributions of the members, unless otherwise determined by the articles of association.

At this point, the individual professional declares his / her own profits in his personal tax return .

The tax return of the associated firm
Associated firms independently determine their income, and submit their tax return every year . However, they are not directly subject to direct taxes . Professional firms are taxed for transparency , in fact, the income produced in associated form is subject to personal income tax for individual shareholders.

Based on article 5 of Presidential Decree no. 917/86, the income of associations constituted by natural persons for the exercise of the arts and professions in an associated form are attributed to each member, regardless of the perception, in proportion to his share of the profits .

How is an associate firm set up?

Also due to the generalized economic crisis, but also the evolution of services towards multi-disciplinarity and professional specialization. In addition, the joint exercise of professional activities can become an interesting opportunity for many young architects, engineers, notaries, lawyers, accountants, doctors, and others to start or continue their profession with other young partners.

The aim is to offer increasingly complete “multibrand” professional services, capable of accompanying the customer on various aspects of his economic activity.

In general line, the exercise in associated form of the professional activity allows professionals to take advantage of various advantages, such as the possibility of sharing the costs of the professional firm among all the members, but above all a better professional specialization.

Centralization and better distribution of the costs of the activity among several subjects Different professionals means different skills available to satisfy customers Better management of tasks Possibility of exploiting economies of scale and growth, also in relation to the banking system If you are reading this article and you are finding these aspects interesting, as a professional, surely an association between professionals can be for you.