Never before have so many wealthy Norwegians decided to move to Switzerland. Most won’t admit it, but their residential relocation is widely tied to tax hikes in Norway and frustration over the country’s annual tax on net worth.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reports that Norwegian tycoon Kjell Inge Røkke, who announced his own move to Switzerland earlier this autumn, won’t lack Norwegian neighbours. Public tax lists and Folkeregister, which lists official addresses for all residents of Norway, have logged 44 relocations to Switzerland since 2009, 19 of them this year. A few others are pending.
The numbers don’t seem big, but there was a marked increase this year, accounting for an estimated NOK 40 billion in taxable net worth leaving Norway. The actual market value of personal fortunes is much higher.
In addition to Røkke, several wealthy entrepreneurs are among those officially leaving the country. They include Hans Jacob and Randi Sundby, who started up a profitable chain of private nursery schools (barnehager) that’s now expanding internationally. Two heirs to the Reitan family fortune, built up through grocery retailing, are also on the list (with taxable fortunes of NOK 2.4 billion each) as is real estate magnate Kim Erla, technology entrepreneur Fredrik Halvorsen and several others, according to DN.
Norway’s so-called “fortune tax” has been controversial for years, even moreso after the Labour Party assumed government power and has been increasing the tax burden on the wealthy. Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, who has a large taxable fortune himself, has criticized those leaving Norway, presumably to avoid the tax. He has called it “a violation of the Norwegian social contract that makes it possible to build large fortunes in Norway.”