On the very day that’s the deadline for most US citizens to file their annual tax returns, April 15, Norway’s finance minister and the US’ ambassador to Norway signed a formal agreement to share financial information related to their citizens’ tax obligations. The deal means Norwegian tax authorities can get help tracking down any hidden fortunes in the US, and vice versa.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported on Tuesday that Norway is one of the first countries to enter into an agreement to share tax information with the US. Norway also has struck a similar deal with Panama and other countries.
In Norway, all banks, brokerage houses and other financial institutions must automatically report such information as customers’ bank balances, loan amounts and interest income earned or paid as of December 31 to the tax authorities as well as to the customers themselves. The amounts usually already appear on the tax forms sent to residents of Norway, both citizens and non-citizens.
“We need to expand (American) financial insitutions’ information obligations,” Finance Minister Sigbjørn Johnsen told DN. He also thinks the prospect of more disclosure by financial institutions will prompt more disclosure by taxpayers in Norway with interests in, for example, US banks.
Norwegian tax director Svein Kristensen, long on the prowl after Norwegian residents’ undeclared income or fortunes both in Norway and abroad, was pleased with the new agreement. Johnsen said it was in line with an international trend towards more transparency among countries that can hinder tax evasion.