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Swedes urged to rally against lower taxes

As Sweden's political leaders wrap up their summer speeches and the prime minister's popularity is in flux, the left-leaning tabloid Aftonbladet has asked Swedes to revolt against the government's plans for further tax breaks.

Swedes urged to rally against lower taxes

In an editorial published on Tuesday, the paper took issue with Fredrik Reinfeldt’s continued focus on tax cuts in his traditional summer speech, at a time when Swedish students appear to be increasingly getting a raw deal in school.

“If Sweden wants to stop plummeting in international (education) comparisons, the money that Reinfeldt wants to waste with new tax reductions should instead go to the schools,” argued Aftonbladet, which also took a swipe at the opposition Social Democrats.

“The Social Democrats say they are against the tax cut, but don’t want to promise to stop it. That is an incomprehensible strategy. It signals they’ve given up, and their lack of self confidence.”

No stranger to campaign journalism, the cantankerous tabloid has now asked Swedes to sign a protest letter against further tax breaks.

With 13 months left until general elections, the anti-tax break campaign comes at a time when the chances of another victory for Reinfeldt’s centre-right coalition are in doubt.

“What has gone wrong?” The Economist magazine asked this week in trying to understand Reinfeldt’s declining popularity. “Compared with most of Europe, Sweden has done well. But unemployment is a running sore. It was a big reason for the Social Democrats’ defeat in 2006, when the rate stood at only 6 percent and Mr. Reinfeldt promised to boost jobs by cutting income tax and welfare benefits.”

Since then, however, once buoyant Sweden faces unemployment above 8 percent, with difficult-to-tackle youth unemployment a constant battleground for warring politicians.

In July, pollsters at Demoskop found only 37.1 percent of the Swedish electorate happy with backing Reinfeldt’s government coalition, a four-party construction branded and marketed as the Alliance in 2006. The Green, Left, and Social Democrat opposition, which is neither streamlined nor cohesive but nonetheless has much in common, scraped together 50.4 percent.

Enterprise Minister Annie Lööf lashed out at the opposition’s discordant voices during a recent parliamentary debate, tweeting the quizzical “When will they get along?”

But getting along has been a leitmotif for the Alliance, and getting along with anyone in Rosenbad, Sweden’s Whitehall, will be difficult if her Centre Party doesn’t get the required four percent to get into parliament. A third Alliance partner, the socially conservative Christian Democrats, are also sploshing about sub-four percent in recent opinions polls.

Add Sweden’s unemployment woes the recent debacle surround energy giant’s Vattenfall’s purchase of Nuon.

The Local asked Lööf last week if the Nuon deal, handled in part by proxy by her predecessor Maud Olofsson, risked damaging her party’s chances in the upcoming elections. She ducked and took cover.

“No, the voters next year would like to vote on more jobs, more green growth, and policies that will make the whole Sweden grow and that’s opinions that my party is in favour of,” she said, adding that these are issues her party was working on.

However, the Centre Party is not alone in wanting to tackle these issues. The Alliance must tackle it, and, as The Economist noted, tax-cuts to stimulate spending has not been enough.

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WORKING IN SWEDEN

CHECKLIST: Here’s what you need to do if you move away from Sweden

What authorities do you need to inform before you leave, are you liable to Swedish tax and how can you access your Swedish pension? Here's a checklist.

CHECKLIST: Here's what you need to do if you move away from Sweden

Tell the relevant authorities if you’re leaving for more than a year

If you’re planning on leaving Sweden for more than a year, you will have to let the authorities know. The main authorities in question are Skatteverket (the Tax Agency) and Försäkringskassan (the Social Insurance Agency).

Försäkringskassan

You have to tell Försäkringskassan when you leave so they can assess whether or not you still qualify for Swedish social insurance. As a general rule, you aren’t eligible for Swedish social insurance if you move away from Sweden, but there are exceptions, such as maternity or paternity benefits if you’re moving to another EU country.

This also applies to any family members who move with you – any over-18’s should send in their own documentation to Försäkingskassan about their move abroad. If you’re moving abroad with anyone under 18, you can include them in your own report to Försäkringskassan.

If both legal guardians are moving abroad together, both need to include any children in their application. If one legal guardian is moving abroad and the other is staying in Sweden, you need the guardian staying in Sweden to co-sign your application. If you are the sole legal guardian of any under-18’s travelling with you, you don’t need any documentation from the other parent.

You can register a move abroad with Försäkringskassan on the Mina sidor service on their website, here (log in with BankID).

Skatteverket

If you are moving abroad for a year or longer, you also need to tell the Tax Agency. This also applies if you were planning on moving abroad for less than a year but ended up staying for longer.

If you move to another Nordic country, you will also need to register your move with that country’s authorities if you will be there for six months or more. You’ll be deregistered from the Swedish population register the same day you become registered in another Nordic country’s register.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll lose your personnummer – you’ll still be able to use it if you ever move back to Sweden – but you will no longer be registered as resident in Sweden.

Similarly to Försäkringskassan, you will also need to report any children you are bringing with you, and both legal guardians must sign the form, whether or not both guardians are moving abroad or not.

In some cases, you may still be liable to pay tax in Sweden even if you live abroad – particularly if you are a Swedish citizen or have lived in Sweden for at least ten years. This could be due to owning or renting out property in Sweden, having family in Sweden, or owning a business in Sweden.

You can tell the tax agency of your plans to move abroad here.

Contact your a-kassa, if relevant

If you are member of a Swedish a-kassa (unemployment insurance), make sure you tell them that you’re leaving the country. As a general rule, you have unemployment insurance in the country you work in, so you will most likely have to cancel your a-kassa subscription.

If you are moving to another country with the a-kassa system, such as Denmark or Finland, it may pay to wait until you have joined a new a-kassa in that country before you cancel your membership in Sweden.

This is due to the fact, in some countries, you only qualify for benefits once you fulfil a membership and employment requirement. In Sweden and Denmark, you must have been a member for 12 months before you qualify. In Finland, the membership requirement is 26 weeks.

If you qualify for a-kassa in Sweden before you leave the country, you may be able to transfer your a-kassa membership period over to your new a-kassa abroad and qualify there straight away, but this usually only applies if your period of a-kassa membership is unbroken.

Check what applies in your new country before you cancel your membership in Sweden – your a-kassa should be able to help you with this.

Contact your union, if relevant

Similarly, if you are a member of a Swedish union or fackförbund, let them know you’re moving abroad.

If you’re moving to another Nordic country, they might be able to point you in the direction of the relevant union in that country, if you want to remain a member of a union in your new country.

If you’re moving to another EU country, you may be able to remain a member of your Swedish union as a foreign worker with the status utlandsvistelse.

If you chose to do this, you will usually pay a lower monthly fee than you do in Sweden, and they can still provide assistance with work related issues – although it may make more sense to join a local union in your field with more knowledge of the labout market.

If you don’t want to be a member of a union in your new country and don’t want to be a member of a Swedish union, you should contact your  union and ask them to cancel your membership.

Collect relevant documents regarding your Swedish pension

If you have worked in Sweden and paid tax for any length of time, you will have paid in to a Swedish pension. You retain this pension wherever you move, but you must apply for it yourself.

To do so, you will need to give details of when you lived and worked in Sweden, as well as providing copies of work contracts, if you have them. If you have these documents before you leave Sweden, make copies so that you can provide them when asked.

If you move to the EU/EES or Switzerland, you may also have the right to other, non-work based pensions, such as guarantee pension for low- or no-income earners, or the income pension complement (inkomstpensionstillägg).

Currently, you can receive your Swedish pension once you turn 62 – although there is a proposal in parliament due to raise pension age to 63 for those born after 1961 from 2023, so this may change.

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