Sunday, August 31, 2014

Swedish People Love Taxes- YES! The Popular Skatteverket

83% of Swedes approve of their tax agency, the Skatteverket. 83%! I am not making up this statistic. Can you imagine that stat being aired on Fox News in reference to the IRS?? I can imagine hell freezing over too.

How Much?
Skatteverket offices
So Swedes must pay 5% taxes, right? Some paltry sum that they could hardly even bother over.
Not even close! Sweden has one of the highest effective tax rates in the world! In addition to paying sometimes in excess of 60% of their income in taxes, there's also a "hidden" 25% VAT (Value Added Tax) on goods sold.

So Helpful!
Like most things in Sweden, the agency runs efficiently. Letters from the Skatteverket often give the name and direct phone number of the employee dealing with your case, leading to quick and personal service. Tax returns arrive already filled out each year, all you have to do is sign your name. You can send in your return by a phone app.

Big Brother?
In addition to collecting gobs of money, the beloved Skatteverket has further powers- they choose your Swedish baby's name!
Well... okay, slight exaggeration ... but they do have the ability to veto names registered by parents who apparently have little interest in living vicariously through their children, as "Sickboy," "Metallica," "Dotcom" and "Krank" have all ended up on the Skatteverket cutting room floor.

Know thy Constituency
In a cunning political strategy, attempting to ride the wave of the Skatteverket popularity back into office, an incumbent Swedish government actually proposed tax increases as a tool to increase their popularity!
Every American voter looking positively dumbfounded
This with the Swedish public sector already making about half the overall economy!

Am I missing Something?
American: "Great, so they're highly efficient at extracting money from their population, they're Big brother and know everything about you, Swedes have the highest tax rate in the world, and the politicians propose more tax?!"
Swede: "They won."
American (bewildered): "Don't you think paying 70% in taxes is already too god damn high?"
Swede: (shrugging) "Perhaps, but I feel that I am getting something for it."

Swedes do see benefits, namely ultra cheap health care and free education, an excellent system of public transportation (though this comes with extra costs) and relatively generous subsidies to low-income households that keep the poverty rate and inequality low, helping to create a society without a lot of friction or crime, which was actually one of the great things I found about living in Sweden.

Unlike America, whose citizens don't see as visible a return on their tax dollar, in part because so much of it goes to the military (which helps protect the rest of the world mind you, and saves other countries from greater expense in the area) Swedes are generally okay with sky-high taxes because people trust the administration to use their tax money in an effective manner.
The goal has always been to create as equal conditions as possible for everyone. In fact, a  growing number of Swedes would accept even higher taxes to pay for a largely fair and well-functioning society.

So, my friends, if you're tired of the drones at the IRS, and you've fallen in love with the Skatteverket, (as you rightfully should) you can always renounce your American citizenship, move to Sweden, and empty your pockets. Hey, at least the babes are hot.


  1. Unfortunately, this system is not working as well as it used to. So many immigrants fleeing from mid-east countries have come into Sweden & they don't pay taxes but they take advantage of all the services. And in addition, many are fundamentalists who are harassing the Swedish peo on the streets. My friend's mom is from there & she visited this summer & was telling us what was going on there. Well, apparently it's going on in many other places in Europe also.

    1. This is not really true. Surely some immigrants are using the social services, but so are the native population. I do agree that abuse of the system in any way shouldn't happen, but to blame it on immigrants from middle eastern countries is simply a stupid, one-sided, non-fact based argument.

      And "many fundamentalists harassing people on the streets"? I have lived in Stockholm all my life and NEVER seen anything of what you're describing. There is, on the other hand, a crazy white christian woman yelling at people in the metro sometimes, if that's what you're referring to.

      Simple piece of advice, don't listen to your friends mom.

  2. .Thanks for adding this thought Joanna. It certainly is the case that immigrants take advantage of the system, and there has been backlash over this.
    I hadn't heard about the fundamentalist harassment in Sweden, but I have in Denmark

  3. i wouldnt call it "taking advantage", its not the immigrants fault that the system isnt built with the numbers of refugees at the moment.
    I have not yet seen any "harrasments from fundamentalists" that you speak of.

    /A swede living in sweden

    1. this is in reference to Joanna's comment above for any reader parsing through the comments. Cheers


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