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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Politicians ordered to pay more tax

A total of 38 top politicians, many of them current or former Members of Parliament, have received claims from Norwegian tax authorities for back taxes owed on the value of their free commuter housing in the capital. Only 11 of them have gone public with the tax claims.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported that a total of 290 MPs, government ministers, state secretaries and political advisers serving between 2017 and 2020 have been audited by the state tax authority, Skatteetaten. The authorities also determined that both the Office of the Prime Minister and the Parliament’s administration had underpaid the state fee all employers are charged on behalf of employees to help cover sick pay and other welfare services.

The single biggest claim is for NOK 668,729 (USD 66,000) demanded from the head of the Christian Democrats Party, Kjell Ingolf Ropstad. Newspaper Aftenposten had revealed last year that Ropstad was provided with a free apartment in Oslo because he was still officially registered as living in his childhood home in Agder. He wasn’t charged any rent there, though, and also had a home in the Oslo area that should have disqualified him for commuter housing. Ropstad has apologized for what he claims was an oversight, and will pay the accumulated tax on the value of the home provided him at taxpayer expense.

Culture Minister Anette Trettebergstuen of the Labour Party has also confirmed a large tax claim of NOK 340,832, based on the economic advantage she had of free commuter housing in Oslo. In her case, though, she had alerted the tax authorities herself to the issue after the Parliament’s own administration hadn’t withheld extra taxes to cover the benefit from her salary. In many cases, MPs simply followed the guidelines and tax withholding policies of the Parliament, only to discover that they were wrong.

Other tax claims range from NOK 55,000 to NOK 220,000, involving MPs and politicians working for the Office of the Prime Minister from the Conservatives, the Liberals, the Progress Party and the Socialist Left Party (SV). It’s up to each individual whether they want to publicly acknowledge tax claims against them, with many opting not to.

Former Justice Minister Anders Anundsen of the Progress Party told Aftenposten that  he has cooperated with tax authorities but claimed taxes “are a matter between the individual taxpayer and Skatteetaten (Norway’s tax authority). Therefore I believe politicians’ tax situations are outside the public domain.” staff



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