Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How to do a tax return in Norway

In Norway there are two simple things you have to do every year, fill out your tax card and then do a tax return (i.e. what you're reading now) when the time comes.  Rinse and repeat.  This post is step two so you must have already filled out your tax card.  And it's a very wise decision to follow this blog.

The month of April is tax month and this is my first year doing tax in Norway, since I've only been year for a year or so.  You have use a government web portal called Altinn to do this.  In late March there was a complete disaster where everyone who had logged into the system found themselves logged in as Kenneth, aged 36 from Oslo, and all his details were available for everyone to see.  Apparently some sort of fiasco happens every year.  The system was built at a cost of 1 billion NOK or according to today's rate, 174.8 million US dollars.  You would think that spending that much would yield a reliable system but unfortunately you do get what you pay for especially when you give that money to the government!

Note that this post does not constitute tax advice.  Everyone's situation is different.  This post is based on my own personal situation.  If you're married/with kids/divorced/own a house/living with someone or something like that, you're not me, and if you follow this and get into trouble, you only have yourself to blame.

But anyway, back to the main point, for foreigners, the most important part in doing your tax return is to claim the standard deduction for foreigners, which can only be claimed during your first two years in Norway.  And here is how you do it.

First log into Altinn, then click on the "RF-1030 Tax return for wage earners and pensioners etc. 2011" message.

Next, click on "Submit tax return with changes or additions".

Then click on "3.3/4.8 Interest, debt, other capital costs and deductions".

Lastly, from the drop down box, select item "3.3.7 Ten per cent standard deduction for temporary stay in Norway".  You can then claim a deduction of up to a maximum of 40000 NOK or 10 percent of your salary.  If you work a full year, then you can deduct the full amount, otherwise you deduct based on how many months you've worked.  E.g. If you were to work a year, you would be legible for the full 40000 NOK, but if you were to only work 6 months, then you can only deduct a maximum of 20000 NOK.  Then click the Add button to make the change, followed by the Start submission button.

If you're due to get some money back you should get it back in June at the earliest.  If you owe money to the government, you should pay it before 31st May to avoid interest charges.

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Frankly speaking in my opinion, tax returns are a big waste of time on my part, as well as the government.  At best it's "creating jobs" that add zero productivity to society.  At worst, it is the biggest waste of time.  I am not a fan of taxes, but if taxes are implemented, then why not a flat tax rate for everyone?  No one likes to pay tax, stealing from Rob to pay Paul is theft.  Just an interesting side note, Norway treats tax evaders far worse than someone who murders.

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