Tax office rocks up in Hultsfred

It's not just about the rock n' roll. Swedish tax authorities are taking the opportunity to promote tax morality, and to end illegal employment practices in the youth bracket by dropping by an unlikely venue: the Hultsfred Festival.

While tax ethics and heavy music may not seem to go hand in hand, it is not a far-fetched thought to use the rock concert as a platform towards large numbers of teens and young adults.

Beginning June 16th the town of Hultsfred, with a population of 10,000, will swell to four times its size as audiences gather at the 20th annual three day long show. Festival promoters, the non-profit organization Rockparty, have stated that the sold-out Hultsfred 2005 has set a new attendance record, with 31,100 tickets sold.

“Youths at festivals are an important target group for us. At the same time they can use our computers for free, we can talk with them about the importance of working legally. We are trying to communicate with the young people at their own arena,” said Lena Bengtson, head of the Västervik tax office, in a press release.

This is the second year the tax office has visited Hultsfred, with the aim to encourage young people against black market jobs, and to create awareness on how tax money is used.

“We are not going to go into discussions about high or low tax pressure. That is the government’s realm. Our purpose is to work against crimes and to maintain tax ethics,” Bengtson said.

Hultsfred is known to be the longest running and largest Swedish music festival geared toward the youth crowd. Since its premier in 1986 with 7,000 fans in attendance, Hultsfred audiences have returned year after year, with growing numbers.

The success of Hultsfred may lie in its ability to headline with large internationally known artists, while still making room for up and coming Swedish talent. This year’s key stages are sure to include Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Slipknot, System of a Down, and Snoop Dogg, while Swedish favorites Lars Winnerbäck and Håkan Hellström are also known to be drawing in large crowds.

Will tax authorities be able to get their voices heard over the clamor that is sure to ensue? We will just have to wait until Thursday to find out.

Erin Earley