Ten things you need to know about filing your Swedish tax return

Ten things you need to know about filing your Swedish tax return
Taxes, everyone's favourite topic. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT
It's time to submit your Swedish tax return form. Don't despair: these ten tips should make the process a bit easier to understand, including how the coronavirus affects your taxes.

1. The basics

First, it’s good to cover the basics of what the return entails. The standard tax return booklet can be a scary-looking creature for newcomers to the Swedish system, but it’s relatively straightforward to deal with for most.

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For lots of people it’s a simple case of checking that all of the pre-printed amounts on the tax return are correct, then submitting it for confirmation. The most simple way to submit it is online, using either Skatteverket’s app (which requires electronic identification in the form of BankID) or using their web service, which can be accessed through either BankID or the eight digit security code printed on the form itself.

If there are no changes to be made the form can also be submitted by sending a text message including your personal identity number and signature code to 71144 from within Sweden, or by calling 020 567 100 and following the instructions. If you prefer the old fashioned way, you can send the completed paper form in by following the instructions on the booklet itself.

If your Swedish isn’t great, a handy English language list of all the categories on the declaration form can be found here. Everything needs to be in Skatteverket’s hands by May 3rd at the latest, so keep that in mind if you’re going to submit using the paper method in particular.

Hold your horses before you sign off on everything though: there could be deductions to take advantage of and additional information not present on the pre-printed sheet that needs to be submitted.

Declaring online is fairly simple for many. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

2. Taxes on the sale of a home

Did you sell a Swedish property in the last tax year? That needs to be declared on your income tax return. The date you sold the home should be listed, and in Skatteverket’s eyes that’s the date the contract was signed, not the date you received the money from the sale.

A 22 percent tax on profits from property sales is paid in Sweden, but if you’re using the profit to upgrade to a new house in the country or a country within the European Economic Area (EEA) it is possible to apply to defer the tax. Skatteverket’s website has details in English about how to declare the sale of property.

READ ALSO: A beginner’s guide to buying an apartment in Sweden

If you sold property it has to be declared. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

3. Deductions for service work on your home

If you’ve paid for services like repairs, maintenance or cleaning in your owned home, you could be eligible for ROT & RUT tax deductions, although these should already have been deducted by the company at the time when you paid for the services.

There is also a specification of exactly what kind of cleaning costs are deductible. “Simple cleaning costs” fit the criteria, by which Skatteverket means everyday household cleaning that doesn’t require a trained specialist or heavy machinery like floor buffing machines. Professional cleaning of a property before moving house can also be deducted.

Some cleaning costs are deductible. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

4. Deductions for your journey to and from work

Some journeys to and from work are eligible for a tax deduction, but only for the part of your expenses that exceeded 11,000 kronor per year. If public transport was your method, you can deduct the applicable amount provided the distance between home and work was at least 2 kilometres. For cars or motorcycle, the distance has to be at least 5 kilometres and the time saved on your return journey must be at least two hours per day compared to making the same journey via public transport.

More details for the kind of journeys to and from work that are eligible can be found in English here.

Photo: Anna AF Klercker/TT

5. Deductions for temporary employment in a different location

If you are temporarily employed in a location in Sweden other than the one you live in (like for example while working as six-month paternity/maternity cover or on a short project), deductions are available to account for the increased costs of living incurred.

You must have spent the night where the place of work is located, and that place must be more than 50 kilometres from your permanent home in order be eligible.

The cost of accommodation in the location of your temporary work can be deducted, while meals and petty expenses for the first month at a standard allowance of 120 kronor per day can be too. The full details are available in this brochure.

Based in Stockholm but doing temporary work in Malmö? Good news. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

6. Daily allowances for working abroad

A useful deduction to be aware of if you ever travel abroad from Sweden for work is the daily tax-free allowance called the utlandstraktamente. The amount, which varies between countries, is designed to account for your increased expenses while working abroad compared to home.

The daily allowance for each county can be consulted here, and it is also worth noting that the amount is different for a full day than a half day. If your journey abroad starts at noon or later then the departure day counts as a half a day, while the return day counts as half a day if it is concluded at 7pm or earlier. 

FIND A JOB: Browse thousands of English-language jobs in Sweden

An allowance to lessen the pain of that business trip to Barcelona. Photo: Manu Fernandez/AP

7. Other deductions to watch out for

Require books or newspapers to do your work, but your employer doesn’t provide them? It’s possible to deduct the cost. The same applies to training or studying you pay for in order to help retain your current employment – though not studying you’ve paid for as part of applying for a new job.

Some other work-related costs that are deductible include tools or instruments necessary for work, and work-related telephone calls incurred at your own expense (but not the cost of a subscription or handset).

A list of other common deductions (and some things that are not deductible) can be found here.

If tools are required for your job and you pay for them, you can deduct the cost. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

8. Additional information if you have your own business

If you have your own business your tax declaration form may require additional information to be submitted. Sole traders for example can be asked to submit an “NE appendix” detailing your company’s results for the relevant tax year alongside the income tax return, as well as accounts and VAT (moms) declarations for the year.

A useful checklist (in Swedish) of all of the additional information required as a sole trader can be found here. Skatteverket lists the process for other types of companies here.

Unless your level of Swedish is good and you have a solid understanding of the nuances of Sweden’s tax, it could be useful to get an accountant to help with this if it’s within budget. Better safe than sorry.

READ ALSO: Six tips for learning Swedish… without even being in Sweden

Paying someone else to do it is an option. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

9. When you’ll get some money back

If you use the SMS, app, telephone or online service methods, do not need to make any changes to your tax form (such as adding deductions or additional income), and declare by March 30th (and have a bank account registered with Skatteverket by then), you’ll get any money you’re owed back by April 9th.

If you file your declaration through the paper method or declare digitally by May 3rd, you’ll get any money back by a still not too shabby June 11th.

You can register your bank account with Skatteverket here

April in Sweden can look like this, so a tax rebate may not be the worst thing in the world. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

10. What about the coronavirus?

The Swedish Tax Agency has put together a webpage containing plenty of handy information about what you need to be aware of in terms of changed circumstances due to the pandemic here (in English).

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