I am trying to figure out whether commercialista should be translated as Tax advisor, tax professional, accountant, or economist. These professions seem to be distinct, but it's there some overlap between these when this label term is used in Italy?

I also need to know the difference between commercialista and ragioniere as the latter seems to be an accountant, public accountant, or tax accountant.

So there seems to be some overlap.

What is the exact difference between the roles commercialista and ragioniere in Italy, and did these translate fairly closely to corresponding professional rules abroad or is it just different because laws and work organizations are different?

What do commercialisti and ragionieri do, and how does their work differ, with all instances of what these words could mean taken into consideration?

  • 1
    Questions about translations into English or other languages are off topic here. We can explain to you what are the nuances of Italian words and phrases, but their equivalent in other languages are beyond the scope of this site, also because we are not English mother tongue speakers.
    – DaG
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 8:49
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    @DaG, it seems, at least to me, that the OP is asking, among other things, the difference between commercialista and ragioniere. So I would consider this question not completely off topic.
    – abarisone
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 9:54
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    Yes, @abarisone, I jest refer to the parts mentioning “their counterparts in [...] the US or the UK” or whether “these translate fairly closely to corresponding professional rules abroad” etc. They should be pruned from the question: they need an expert a) in English; b) in UK and US fiscal/economic systems, neither of which can be looked for here.
    – DaG
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 10:13
  • @DaG It seems to me that you are a bit too strict. I know it's hard for us to give an answer to that question, but being hard to answer has never been a criterion for a question to be off topic.
    – Denis Nardin
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 10:52
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    @DenisNardin: Sorry for not having been clear enough. I am not saying that the whole of the question is OT (indeed, I didn't propose to close it). I am saying that, hard or easy as it might be, entering into UK and US fiscal or financial systems, and their terminology, is not the topic of this site (even if all of us were expert about them). I am just saying that the question should be limited to its parts about Italian: what exactly those words mean, and what is their differences.
    – DaG
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 11:29

1 Answer 1


According to Treccani's definition, for commercialista:

commercialista s. m. e f. [der. di commerciale] (pl. m. -i). – 1. Professionista, fornito della laurea in economia e commercio (il cui titolo è perciò, più esattamente, dottore commercialista), al quale è per legge riconosciuta competenza tecnica nelle materie commerciali, economiche, finanziarie, tributarie e di ragioneria, previo conseguimento della relativa abilitazione professionale e l’iscrizione nell’apposito albo, tenuto dal Consiglio dell’ordine. 2. Giurista o avvocato specializzato in diritto commerciale.

  1. Professional with a Bachelor's degree in Economics and Business (whose title is more exactly, dottore commercialista) who is acknowledged according to the law to have competence about commercial, economic, financial, tax-related and accounting topics, having previously achieved the proper qualification or licence. 2. Legal expert or lawyer specialized in commercial law.

and ragioniere:

ragionière s. m. (f. -a) [der. di ragione nel sign. di «conto, calcolo»; cfr. lat. tardo rationarius]. – 1. ant. Persona abile nel fare i conti, oppure incaricata di fare o rivedere i conti, in senso generico. 2. Chi, avendo ottenuto l’abilitazione dell’istituto tecnico commerciale, esercita (o può esercitare) per professione la ragioneria: ha il diploma di r.; il r. della ditta; il r. capo del comune.

  1. Person expert to cope with accounting matters, in general sense. 2. Who, having achieved proper qualification (diploma) by a commercial and technical institute can practice the accountant job.

The main difference between commercialista and ragioniere in Italy is that the former has a Bachelor's degree in Economics and Business whereas the latter only a diploma.

Moreover, depending on the size of a company, the commercialista is usually external whereas the ragioniere can be an employee of the company.

A suitable translation for commercialista would be something like fiscal expert, accountant.

A suitable translation for ragioniere would be something like bookkeeper, accountant.

  • Don't forget the “Ragioniere Generale dello Stato” (with all capitals, in perfect bureaucratic style).
    – egreg
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 7:36

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