Swedish word of the day: skatt

Emma Löfgren
Emma Löfgren - [email protected]
Swedish word of the day: skatt
A short word with two meanings. Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Here's a Swedish word you'll hear a lot in the first half of the year.


Skatt means “tax”. It's a word you will in particular see in springtime, as that’s when Sweden’s tax declaration gets under way.

In 2024, if you worked and earned money in Sweden last year, you can log in to the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) to view your tax return document from March 4th, and file your taxes from March 19th. The final deadline to submit your tax return is May 2nd.

The Swedish word for tax return is inkomstdeklaration (income declaration), skattedeklaration (tax declaration) or simply deklaration. If you want to talk about filing your taxes, you can say deklarera min skatt (declare my taxes), lämna in min deklaration (submit my declaration), or much more commonly, just use the verb deklarera (declare) and everyone will understand what you mean.

The average municipal tax rate (kommunalskatt) in Sweden is around 32 percent, depending on where you live. On top of that, only high earners pay a national tax (statlig skatt) on income over a certain threshold (598,500 kronor for 2023, or roughly 51,200 kronor per month).

You may also be interested in the words skatteåterbäring (tax rebate, if you have paid too much tax and are owed money back) and skatteavdrag (tax deduction), and probably less interested in kvarskatt (tax arrears, if you have money left to pay at the end of the tax year).

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But skatt is not only used to talk about taxes.

It also means treasure, both in the sense of an actual treasure (jag har hittat en skattkista – I have found a treasure chest) and figuratively to talk about a loved one (min älskade skatt – my darling/beloved treasure, or hon är en riktig skatt – she’s a real treasure).


Skatt 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 and Danish. 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.


Båd’ stat och lagar oss förtrycka, vi under skatter digna ner

We’re repressed by both the state and laws, we crumple under taxes (literal translation, the Swedish lyrics of the these days rarely-sung fourth verse of French socialist anthem L’Internationale)

Hur mycket skatt ska du betala i år?

How much will you pay in taxes this year?

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. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.


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