Thousands more are now millionaires

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Norway has 28,000 new millionaires, measured in terms of the Norwegian krone and according to tax lists released by the state. It’s more proof that Norway has tackled the global finance crisis better than most countries. Crashing stock markets and a finance system in shock didn’t halt wealth creation in Norway last year.

Even though several high-profile investors and industrialists saw they fortunes shrink, others joined the ranks of Norwegians with substantial net worth.

All told there were 303,200 Norwegians with taxable net worth of more than NOK 1 million (about USD 182,000 at current exchange rates of NOK 5.5 to one US dollar) at the end of 2008.

That’s a new record: 28,000 more than in 2007 and 67,000 more than in 2006, reports newspaper Aftenposten. More than 100,000 Norwegians reported net worth of more than NOK 2 million, according to the newly released tax information, also a new record.

It’s important to note that the taxable net worth and income figures reported on tax returns are also much lower than real value in market terms. That’s because the tax value of real estate, for example, is never assessed at more than 30 percent of market value. So most Norwegians are wealthier than their tax data may suggest.

Surprised
The growth in personal fortunes comes at a time when inflation has been at record low levels, so the million-krone fortunes aren’t inflated either. It has surprised Professor Terje Hansen at the University of Oslo.”I would have expected that the stock market developments would have had a more negative effect,” Hansen told Aftenposten . He thinks it may be because relatively few Norwegians have their savings in stocks or stock funds, and therefore avoided the heavy losses that hit late last year.

Most Norwegians have their money invested in their homes, and while housing prices slipped at the end of 2008 and earlier this year, they’d been rising for years and now are rising again. That has a major effect on Norwegians’ net worth. Tax authorities have also been raising real estate tax values (called ligningsverdi ) by 10 percent per year for the past few years, believing them to have been artificially low.

Norway’s wealthiest
Topping the net worth (formue) list in the latest tax data released by the state was tobacco heirJohan Henrik Andresen, who stated a fortune of NOK 10.56 billion. Andresen listed income of NOK 58 million and paid taxes of NOK 125.3 million.

Stavanger-based real estate developerTore Liereported the highest income of all Norwegians: NOK 101,870,780 last year to be exact (about USD 18.5 million). He had a listed fortune of NOK 501.6 million and paid NOK 34,164,782 in taxes.

Andresen also paid the most of any Norwegian in income and fortune taxes, followed by industrialistKjell Inge Røkke, who paid taxes of NOK 65.3 million, and real estate developerOlav Thon, who paid taxes of NOK 64.2 million.