Sweden proposes tax change for some foreign workers

More foreign workers in Sweden may have to pay tax, if a government proposal goes ahead.

Sweden proposes tax change for some foreign workers
Skatteverket estimates it would create another 330 million kronor a year in tax revenues. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

A person who does not normally live in Sweden, but is working temporarily in the country while being paid by an employer based outside of Sweden, may be exempt from paying taxes if they work less than 183 days during a year, according to current tax rules.

But according to the government's proposed changes, this rule should not apply if they have been contracted to carry out work for a company based in Sweden.

In other words, whether a temporary worker has to pay tax or not should depend on which company they are doing the work for, rather than in which country the employer paying their salary is based.

READ ALSO: Eight things to know about your Swedish tax return

Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

The government also wants foreign workers who are not registered residents with a personal identity number or coordination number (folkbokförda) to still register at the tax agency Skatteverket to help it keeb tabs on those working in the country.

It also suggests that rules applying to Swedish companies should also apply to foreign businesses operating in Sweden, for example rules on tax deductions and registration.

“We want order on the job market. This is a proposal that more people who are working temporarily in Sweden should also pay taxes in the country. They are also to register at Skatteverket to keep an eye on who is working. That facilitates control, competitiveness for Swedish businesses and tax revenues,” Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson told news agency TT.

Skatteverket estimates it would create another 330 million kronor ($39 million) a year in tax revenues.

The government has referred the proposal to other agencies and organizations to get their opinions before it decides to take it further. If it goes ahead, it is proposed it should come into force on January 1st, 2019.

For members


Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you’re moving country

Have you ever wondered what to do with your private pension plan when moving to another European country?

Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you're moving country

This question will probably have caused some headaches. Fortunately a new private pension product meant to make things easier should soon become available under a new EU regulation that came into effect this week. 

The new pan-European personal pension product (PEPP) will allow savers to take their private pension with them if they move within the European Union.

EU rules so far allowed the aggregation of state pensions and the possibility to carry across borders occupational pensions, which are paid by employers. But the market of private pensions remained fragmented.

The new product is expected to benefit especially young people, who tend to move more frequently across borders, and the self-employed, who might not be covered by other pension schemes. 

According to a survey conducted in 16 countries by Insurance Europe, the organisation representing insurers in Brussels, 38 percent of Europeans do not save for retirement, with a proportion as high as 60 percent in Finland, 57 percent in Spain, 56 percent in France and 55 percent in Italy. 

The groups least likely to have a pension plan are women (42% versus 34% of men), unemployed people (67%), self-employed and part-time workers in the private sector (38%), divorced and singles (44% and 43% respectively), and 18-35 year olds (40%).

“As a complement to public pensions, PEPP caters for the needs of today’s younger generation and allows people to better plan and make provisions for the future,” EU Commissioner for Financial Services Mairead McGuinness said on March 22nd, when new EU rules came into effect. 

The scheme will also allow savers to sign up to a personal pension plan offered by a provider based in another EU country.

Who can sign up?

Under the EU regulation, anyone can sign up to a pan-European personal pension, regardless of their nationality or employment status. 

The scheme is open to people who are employed part-time or full-time, self-employed, in any form of “modern employment”, unemployed or in education. 

The condition is that they are resident in a country of the European Union, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein (the European Economic Area). The PEPP will not be available outside these countries, for instance in Switzerland. 

How does it work?

PEPP providers can offer a maximum of six investment options, including a basic one that is low-risk and safeguards the amount invested. The basic PEPP is the default option. Its fees are capped at 1 percent of the accumulated capital per year.

People who move to another EU country can continue to contribute to the same PEPP. Whenever a consumer changes the country of residence, the provider will open a new sub-account for that country. If the provider cannot offer such option, savers have the right to switch provider free of charge.  

As pension products are taxed differently in each state, the applicable taxation will be that of the country of residence and possible tax incentives will only apply to the relevant sub-account. 

Savers who move residence outside the EU cannot continue saving on their PEPP, but they can resume contributions if they return. They would also need to ask advice about the consequences of the move on the way their savings are taxed. 

Pensions can then be paid out in a different location from where the product was purchased. 

Where to start?

Pan-European personal pension products can be offered by authorised banks, insurance companies, pension funds and wealth management firms. 

They are regulated products that can be sold to consumers only after being approved by supervisory authorities. 

As the legislation came into effect this week, only now eligible providers can submit the application for the authorisation of their products. National authorities have then three months to make a decision. So it will still take some time before PEPPs become available on the market. 

When this will happen, the products and their features will be listed in the public register of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA). 

For more information: 

This article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.