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Are you facing higher tax bills in Sweden in 2016?

From next year you could be paying more cash to your council – depending on where in Sweden you live – as local authorities including Stockholm plan to raise taxes levied on residents.

Are you facing higher tax bills in Sweden in 2016?
How much more could you be paying in taxes next year? Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

15 of Sweden's 290 municipalities have said they are planning to increase taxes from next year, while three county councils are doing the same, a review by public broadcaster SVT showed on Wednesday.

In the Stockholm city area, where residents currently face a 30.53 percent tax rate in the county and municipality combined, the latter is planning a 0.22 kronor ($0.025) hike in taxes in 2016.

This means that for every 100 kronor residents earn, 0.22 kronor will go to the council, boosting its official finances by around 500 million kronor. Simply put, Stockholmers earning 30,000 kronor a month can expect to pay around 50 kronor more in taxes each month in 2016.

The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting, SKL) warned earlier this year that local authorities could be forced to raise taxes in the coming years, due to an ageing population and increasing intake of refugees.

However, most of Sweden's councils are leaving their tax rates unchanged next year, including in the country's second and third biggest cities, Gothenburg and Malmö.

And five municipalities are actually lowering taxes, including four in Stockholm county: Haninge (-0.10 kronor), Salem (-0.25 kronor), Värmdö (-0.05), and Österåker (-0.5 kronor). Östra Göinge in Skåne in southern Sweden is also lowering taxes by 0.12 kronor.

Örebro in central Sweden is planning its first tax hike in more than three decades – raising its residents' contribution to the council's coffers by 0.5 kronor. Officials there have been keen to stress that the increase is not related to the refugee crisis.

“Of course it's a challenge that both Örebro, the whole of Sweden and Europe are facing right now, but that's not what our tax rise is about. What we're undertaking is the biggest welfare investment since the 1960s,” council chairwoman Lena Baastad told SVT.

The ruling centre-left Social Democrat-Green government has already allocated an extra 10 billion grant to be shared between Sweden's municipalities to help them welcome and integrate the 140,000-190,000 asylum seekers expected to arrive in the Nordic nation this year. 

Where in Sweden are taxes going up next year?

Hallsberg: 0.5 (kronor)

Hörby: 0.6

Järfälla: 0.15

Lomma: 0.4

Malung-Sälen: 0.5

Motala: 0.5

Norrköping: 0.5

Oskarshamn: 0.75

Staffanstorp: 0.35

Stockholm: 0.22

Uppsala: 0.3

Vadstena: 1.25

Vindeln: 0.5

Värnamo: 0.4

Örebro: 0.5

Norrbotten county: 1.16

Uppsala county: 0.55

Västernorrland county: at least 0.5

A total of 78 councils did not respond to SVT's survey or said they had not yet made a decision on next year's tax levels.

For members

MONEY

What happens if you don’t pay a bill in Sweden?

Sweden's Enforcement Authority is responsible for collecting unpaid debts, fines, and declarations of bankruptcy. So, what happens if an unpaid bill reaches the Enforcement Authority, and can you do anything if you have a black mark on your record?

What happens if you don't pay a bill in Sweden?

What happens when you have a bill?

Usually, if you have a bill in Sweden, you will receive an invoice (faktura) either digitally or via post, which will include details such as the amount owed, who to pay and the date payment is due (förfallodatum).

If you don’t pay the invoice in time, the person you owe money to may turn the case over to inkasso, or a debt collection agency, who will again send you an invoice for payment, plus the agency’s fee.

If this invoice goes unpaid, the Enforcement Authority will get involved.

The Swedish Enforcement Authority, Kronofogden in Swedish, is responsible for collecting unpaid debts. It does this by providing advice and support to those who are unable to pay their debts, as well as helping creditors – such as, for example, landlords whose tenants have not paid their rent.

The debt collection agency will pass unpaid bills on to them, and you may receive a betalningsanmärkning or black mark on your credit record.

Before you receive a black mark, however, you will first receive an ansökan om betalningsföreläggande from the Enforcement Authority. If you pay this in time, your debt will not be registered as a betalningsanmärkning.

There are some types of payment where you can receive a betalningsanmärkning without the bill going through a debt collection agency first. These are usually payments owed to the state, such as unpaid tax, unpaid student loan repayments or unpaid municipal parking fees.

You are unlikely to come into contact with the Enforcement Authority unless you miss or forget to pay a bill.

What happens if you get a black mark?

A black mark can have pretty major consequences – it can stop you from hiring a car, getting a credit card, borrowing money (including getting a mortgage), taking out a phone contract or even renting an apartment, as well as barring you from ordering anything on credit or paying via invoice.

This is due to the fact that whenever you apply for a loan or credit in Sweden, the lender will check your credit score (kreditupplysning) to see if there is any risk of you not paying up. Many lenders have a strict policy on not lending to individuals with black marks on their credit score to minimise risk, no matter whether the mark is due to an unpaid phone bill or a missed mortgage repayment.

How can I check if I have one?

You can check if you have a black mark by contacting a credit check company – here is a list of all credit check companies in Sweden. Some may charge a small fee for the service, whereas others offer it for free.

One advantage of checking your own credit score before contacting a lender is that your credit score is not affected when you carry out a check on yourself. 

If, however, a bank carries out a credit check on you, this can affect your credit score – it’s usually not an issue if you carry out one or two checks, but a lot of checks in a short period of time could cause issues.

Can you do anything to remove it?

Unfortunately, no. 

All you can do is wait – a black mark will disappear from your record after three years for private individuals or five years for businesses. 

The best strategy is to avoid getting a black mark on your record in the first place – such as by paying your bills via autogiro (direct debit), keeping an eye on your post (as well as your digital post), and paying for items up-front if possible to avoid invoices, rather than using “buy now, pay later” credit services such as Klarna or Clearpay.

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