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Swedish word of the day: skatteåterbäring

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Swedish word of the day: skatteåterbäring
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

This word might look complicated, but it's well worth learning since it could equate to extra money for you...


Skatteåterbäring is a Swedish compound noun meaning 'tax refund', referring to money paid by the government to individuals to compensate for any overpayment of taxes.

The way this works is that individuals fill out their tax declaration (deklaration), submit this to the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket), and if it turns out you've overpaid, you'll receive your skatteåterbäring straight to your bank account.

Linguistically, we can break the word skatteåterbäring down into three parts.

The first one is the scary word skatt which means 'tax' (and can also mean 'treasure'). It comes from the Old Norse term skattr and the even older proto-Germanic word skattaz, which had a variety of meanings including wealth, property, cattle, money, and goods.

It's easy to see how the two meanings of modern Swedish skatt developed from here, and you'll also find the word skatt in Norwegian. It used to exist in English as well (and in some dialects scat still refers to certain taxes), before it was replaced by tax based on the French verb taxer.

There are lots of different kinds of tax in Sweden: inkomstskatt (income tax), meromsättningsskatt or moms (VAT), fastighetsskatt (property tax) and more.

Then we have the little word åter, which means something like 'back' or 'again' in Swedish. It can be used as a prefix, for example in the verbs återkomma (to return) and återse (to see someone again) or it can be used as a word in its own right, for example han är åter i Göteborg (he is back in Gothenburg).

In the word skatteåterbäring, åter is a prefix to the noun bäring. Bäring comes from the verb bära, which means a lot of things including 'to support/bear', 'to carry', and 'to pay'. Curiously enough, the noun bäring means 'bearing' either in the sense of position/direction or meaning 'in relation to', but the noun återbäring only refers to the repayment of money, in the sense of 'refund'.


Example sentences

Hur kan jag få tidig skatteåterbäring?

How can I get my tax refund early?

Nu är det dags för skatteåterbäring.

Now it's time for tax refunds to be paid out.

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is available to order. Head to to read more about it.

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