Why Swedes love their 'folkhemmet'
Published by Brian Church for 24dash.com in Housing
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For those who didn't know, it's tax declaration day in Sweden (make a note of it for your diaries next year).
To 'celebrate', the Swedish Institute (SI) has kindly given us several facts we never knew we didn't know about Swedish tax policy. By the way, the SI is a state-funded organisation - by Sweden, not the United Kingdom - that promotes interest and confidence in Sweden around the world. And it's doing a damn good job.
The SI says: "Anywhere in the world is a good place to live if you’re rich, but Sweden is a good place even if you don't have a penny to your name. Virtually free healthcare, and all kinds of social benefits are available to all citizens. So where is the magic that makes all of this possible? The answer is taxes, taxes, and more taxes. Strangely, the Swedes don't seem to mind all that much, not even on tax declaration day."
This bit's quite exciting. Did you know:
- Tax revenue in Sweden, as a percentage of GDP, is consistently one of the highest in the world
- Income tax in Sweden, when combined with the social fees paid by the employer, is on average about 44.4%, but can be much more for high income earners
- The Swedish Tax Agency is considered one of the most trustworthy brands in the country and Swedes, in general, quite happily pay their taxes. Julian Assange (photo) is believed to be an exception.
"People trust the state, the politicians, the administration, to use their tax money in an effective way,” says Swedish author Henrik Berggren, reputedly a household name in Croydon (that's our little 24housing joke). "I think that’s the basic reason for acceptance. The second is that there is a high evaluation of equality in Sweden. The political goal has been to create as equal conditions as possible for people."
The SI suggests that the great social welfare system of the nation is based on a culture of collectivist ideas that has been fostered over generations, with concepts like 'folkhemmet', which roughly translates as 'the people's home'.
Now you know.