High earners and men – the winners of Sweden’s new budget

Swedish Finance minister Magdalena Andersson presented the national budget on Wednesday to much criticism – including from within her own party.

High earners and men – the winners of Sweden's new budget
It's the first main budget put forward by the new government. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Reporters were flocking around the minister as she walked the 300 metres from the finance ministry to parliament in Stockholm, a tradition known as budgetpromenad ('the budget walk') in Swedish.

She fielded questions about how a Social Democrat minister – a party built on welfare and equality – could put forward a budget where the two winners that would benefit from tax cuts were men and high earners.

The budget includes tax cuts to the tune of 16 billion kronor, with only eight billion kronor for welfare services. Most of the tax cuts apply to high earners, although pensioners are also in line for tax breaks. Read more about the budget here.

“I stand by the budget on the whole, but as always when you cooperate broadly in politics you have to both give and take,” Andersson told the TT newswire when asked what aspects of the budget she liked the least.

DON'T MISS: What the new budget means for international residents

The Liberals and the Centre Party, both of which for the first time had collaborated with the ruling Social Democrats and Greens on a main national budget, had mostly positive comments to give on Wednesday.

But no shortage of criticism was heard from the other opposition parties: the Christian Democrats, Moderates, Sweden Democrats and not least the Left Party, the Social Democrats' traditional budget partner which this year was squeezed out of negotiations following January's four-party deal.

Heavy criticism also came from within the Social Democrat party itself, who found the abolishing of the austerity tax for high earners a bitter pill to swallow. “You're pouring money over the rich,” said Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson, head of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) for blue-collar workers.

Andersson readily admitted that the move, pushed through by the Liberals, was not the Social Democrats' preferred choice. But she argued that on the other hand, the budget also included investment in police and the justice system, municipalities and pensioners.

“Our elderly will get more money in their wallet but it will also be possible to hire more nurses and teachers,” she told TT.

READ ALSO: Does Sweden's tax system really screw the rich?

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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.