Oslo’s popular mayor, Fabian Stang, asked for public forgiveness on Friday after admitting on his Facebook page that he’d hired a man to paint his holiday cabin without including or withholding taxes on the job. “I have made a fool of myself,” Stang wrote.
Stang paid NOK 42,000 (USD 7,000) for the paint job directly into the painter’s bank account, allegedly without realizing that the painter was not registered as having a business. “I should have sent in a payment and tax withholding form to the local tax office,” Stang wrote, adding that the amount of tax that the painter would have owed on his earnings from Stang should have been withheld and paid to the tax office, too.
Stang, from the Conservative Party, admitted he was thus guilty of having been an accomplice to svartarbeid (black market work) and he was very sorry. He said the required paperwork had been delivered on Friday.
“Paying our taxes contributes to our common good, and I pay my taxes with pleasure,” Stang claimed, reciting a common, if sometimes sarcastic, Norwegian expression. “In no way did I mean to avoid taxes and I am very sorry for what happened.”
Newspaper Dagbladet noted that Stang, a lawyer by profession, had no contract with the painter nor did he get a receipt for the job done. Stang admitted that he didn’t check the man’s employment situation and confirmed he had no receipt for the work performed.
“I have had employment responsibiity at a law firm, but I have never before worked with craftsmen who aren’t registered,” Stang told Dagbladet.
Asked whether he felt a special responsibility to follow the law since he’s mayor of the country’s capital city, Stang replied: “No, everyone is responsible for following the law. It’s good that we have strict rules. I acted in good faith but it’s always sad when you land in a situation like this. That’s why I’m now making sure the law is being followed.”
An earlier mayor of Oslo from the Conservative Party, Per Ditlev Simonsen, also got into trouble several years ago for failing to report to the tax authorities that his family had money in Swiss bank accounts that was subject to Norway’s fortune tax. Both he and his daughter were subjected to vast media coverage and tax penalties, and the case resulted in a sudden surge of Norwegian taxpayers disclosing that they also had unreported funds abroad.