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Norway - It's Weird: Part Two

Here is a Fun Fact I have not mentioned before, but which shocks most people outside of Norway: Each year, on October 1, the "tax lists" are published. This means that the tax records of the whole country are made official to the press. All the newspapers and the TV channels then make their own pages with interfaces that link to the tax records, so that you can search by name and country and find out their after tax income, how much tax they paid, and their net worth according to bank records. You can go to a page like this one, type in name (in many cases that is enough; if not, you can add the county or the postal code, and voila, you know how much your boss/neighbour/grandpa/best friend made last year. And while the tax authorities only make the lists available to the press for three weeks, the press all make their own copies of the lists so that they are searchable throughout the year.

Yes, it is crazy! While I enjoyed looking up the income of my superiors in my previous job, I can understand why this is seen as a violation of privacy. But it has been like this for several years so I am not sure when or if it will be changed. People even use it to negotiate their salaries: "Well, X makes so much, so I should too!"

Here is an example of a search for "Ole Olsen":

Comments (6)

Interesting! Income information posted publicly!
I think the only time I see this here is for presidential candidates.

I used to date a guy whose mom's family was from Norway (maiden name was Olsen) and his dad's family was from Finland. I wonder if one of those Olsen's is a relative :)
I could just imagine the uproar if we had our tax info public here in the US.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Chiocciola, that is interesting! I think that kind of public information could either make one feel very envious or really guilty! I can see the point about improving negotiations though especially if someone is in the same position with the same responsibilities.

Very interesting post Chiocciola. Thank you for sharing it.

That is wild! I wonder what inspired them to start publishing that info?


Wow, Chiocciola, what an interesting practice. I think it could be a real aid to whistle-blowers and public officials concerned with corruption. People could quickly see when someone is manipulating the tax system to avoid paying their fair share! (It's disturbing to see how many tax breaks exist for the high-end earners.)

I can understand people's privacy concerns, but sometimes the public good is more important.

Annie, I really don't know, but I can try to find out. I think the lists have been public for a while, but before the press would go and see who was the richest person in the county, etc., while now it is taken to the next level, since they become searchable databases.

Sandra, good point. It is a difficult decision; I still can't decide if I think the pros outweigh the cons here.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 9, 2009 8:25 PM.

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