Around November 1 is the time Tax office in Finland finalizes with the year’s tax returns and send out their decision to individuals. If everything is ok, or you need to pay more etc etc. While that in itself is taxing (hehehe.. had to use the pun), now imagine the newspapers across the country publishing info about how much you made last year (salary and capital gain), and how much tax you paid!
Taxes are considered very secret in a lot of countries. In US, I would never know what another colleague or my boss makes let alone know how much anyone made on stock (Capital gains). Neither would I find such information in India. We read about how some folks (like Trump) refuse to make his taxes public even though he is holding a public position. We read discussions about whether the Politicians in USA including the President’s taxes should even be made transparent. And people like Trump work really hard to keep them secret. Two years into presidency, Trump simply refuses to make his taxes public. If only he was in Finland:)
This was published in Ilta Sanomat newspaper (and online where I got screenshots from) last week.
In Finland transparency is valued a lot even when it is about taxes. Every individual’s tax information is public. Last weekend, lot of news papers published taxes for top 100 or top1000 people in Finland. Regional newspapers focused on their regional folks and some national newspapers published list for nationwide. In Ilta Sanomat online, there were 660 pages worth of data published! It was fascinating to see them out in the open.
oh! and you don’t have to wait for the newspapers to publish that info either. This was the headline on one of media channels front page last year.
“In Finland, all it takes is a phone call to find out how much your neighbour earned last year”
It really is that simple!! you can just make one phone call and find out who made how much. Now for the question of why would I care what my neighbour is making is probably best left alone. Point is, transparency especially with taxes has been big in Finland. The transparency helps too. It gives newspapers a chance to point out if there are any irregularities. If you see top officials of a company making a lot of money but not pay much to their employees, well, you can adjust your spending on that company to make a point:). Whether you are a president of the country or a company, come Nov1, the taxes become public. From what I read, this tradition of tax transparency has been in Finland for a very very long time.
Taxes are high in Finland and tax rates very much correlate to how much you make. The higher your income, higher the tax rate. I like the idea!! If I do make money, why not contribute more to the society!
Oh! the “higher the income, higher the rate” doesn’t apply only to taxes. Same goes for traffic tickets. When you get busted driving 150kms/hr or get pulled over by police for a ticket, the amount on the ticket depends on your income. Higher the income, higher the speeding ticket will be:)
Now you know…..