Thursday, October 22, 2009

Norway's tax transparency

The BBC is running an interesting little story, based on the fact that every year, Norway's tax authorities publish details about people's income and wealth.

"Aftenposten, the main broadsheet, operates a system where the curious are rewarded with information about an individual's income - for example Morten Harket, famous from the band A-ha.

The search also reveals how much tax Mr Harket paid and the value of his investments - as well as his post code and the name of his local tax authority. In addition, the paper has developed graphics that show how much he earns relative to national and regional averages. Last year he apparently raked in about 1.75 million kroner ($315,000; £190,000), 658% more than the average Norwegian.

Type in another name, for instance Jens Stoltenberg, and comparisons between the two are displayed in neat bar charts, revealing that Mr Harket earns rather more than the country's prime minister, yet pays rather less tax.

Obviously, not all is revealed. Many of the country's wealthiest are listed with zero income and zero investments, largely because they have tucked their cash away in tax-efficient companies or trusts, or because they keep their funds abroad. Mr Harket's wealth, for example, is listed as zero."

We don't take a position on whether or not this system is a good idea -- that's for voters in each country to decide -- our core aim is to get tax authorities to be able to tax their citizens properly and fairly. But clearly in the right political environment extreme transparency is something that can be done, without extreme levels of fuss.


Blogger Physiocrat said...

All sorts of things are possible in Scandinavia which are not possible in the UK, but one should not forget that this part of the world is where, for better or worse, the Law of Jante still holds sway.

But the evil effects of the taxation of wages still operate regardlesss.

3:16 pm  
Blogger Fred Fry said...

One item often left out is that they do not publish all accounts for some reason leaving out those on the poorer side of the scale.

If they truly wanted to be transparent, then all names should be published and include all income, including Government aid/assistance. this way all would be subject to examination by their piers.

One thing about assets being in corporate entities. At some time the corporations distribute dividends to the shareholders. It is at that time that the income should be reported.

5:51 am  

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