Country Rankings - Norway
Jun 01, 2018 Norway: unhelpfulMaybe it's because we now live in increasingly fast-paced, on-demand economies, but there seems to be a growing sense of impatience at the pace – or lack thereof – of the OECD's work on some crucial areas of the BEPS project – notably around the taxation of the digital economy. That the European Union went charging into this matter like the proverbial bull in a china shop can be put down to its usual enthusiasm for fixing international tax problems. But even the saintly United Nations now can't wait any longer, having decided to press ahead with its own work on digital taxation. When the UN can bear the OECD's procrastination no more, you know the game's up. The patience of saints is only finite, it transpires. The official line of most governments is that it is preferable to work in conjunction with the OECD on this matter, rather than in competition with it, and to await the digital tax recommendations that will emerge in a couple of years' time. Yet, even though many countries have condemned the EU's rush to legislate, including some EU member states, it's equally apparent that the same jurisdictions are looking to hedge their digital tax bets. Last week, for example, Norway's parliament rejected a proposal that the Government examine its digital tax options, resolving that Norway should stay the multilateral course. Nevertheless, at the same time, the parliamentary resolution also urged the Government to assess the suitability of temporary taxes on digital companies and evaluate the possible consequences of introducing a tax on digital companies similar to that proposed by the European Commission in March. All of which seems a little confusing, not to mention unhelpful, given that unilateral forces are thought the biggest threat to the success of the BEPS project. Governments and tax authorities are already taking steps to bring certain digital business models, notably online platforms providing accommodation and transport services, into the tax net, irrespective of whether those have a physical presence or not. For instance, earlier this month, Denmark announced a landmark tax reporting agreement with Airbnb. Other jurisdictions are considering digital nexus rules, like Canada, or have already introduced them, such as Slovakia, where there is now an obligation for companies providing transport and accommodation services to Slovak residents via digital platforms to register a permanent establishment in the country, if they render their services there repeatedly.
Sep 19, 2017 Norway: stimulatesWe go Nordic again this week, and such reputational crises are unlikely to be suffered by Scandinavian nations any time soon. Yet, for a region where fiscal fairness is deep-rooted, and social democracy abounds, there aren't many social democrats to be seen in Scandinavian governments right now. Indeed, conservatism seems to be all the rage. Denmark, lauded by America's best-known social democrat, Senator Bernie Sanders, is actually ruled by the center-right Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen of the Venstre Party, which is in coalition with the conservative People's Party, and the libertarian Liberal Alliance. Meanwhile, Norway has just re-elected its conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg (albeit with a reduced number of seats in parliament). Her Hoyre Party will govern in coalition with other parties on the right of Norwegian politics. Over in Finland, Prime Minister Juha Sipila leads the Centre Party, but it's fair to say that as a unit, the governing coalition leans right, not left. Even in Sweden, the Social Democratic Government lacks a majority in parliament, and must govern with the support of the right. And the influence of conservative polices can be seen in recent tax developments. Denmark, as mentioned here recently, has just proposed a package of tax cuts designed to encourage people from welfare to work. Hoyre's election manifesto was sprinkled with tax proposals cutting taxes for small businesses and investors, and peppered with conservatisms such as "We will restrict the growth in public expenditure," and "stimulate investment, private enterprise, and private ownership," and "Private ownership is fundamental to future prosperity in Norway." Conservatives in Sweden also scored a major victory for their cause recently, by making the Government drop plans to change the controversial 3:12 tax scheme for small businesses, and include proposals to ease the tax burden on start-up enterprises in return for supporting the 2018 Budget. Still, conservatism is relative, isn't it? I mean, if you transplanted the Norwegian Conservative Party to the US political environment, they would probably appear somewhere in the middle of the ideological band. Some even say they would be considered center-left. So where does that put Bernie on Scandinavia's political spectrum, I wonder? Anyhow, don't go expecting radical change in Scandinavia's tax and economic policies for the foreseeable future.
Nov 22, 2012 Norway: EFTA starriestWhen playing the alphabet soup game (Harrods or Macy's, GBP12 or USD14 - things are always cheaper across the pond - and as an anglo-saxon sport you can't buy it on the Continent) EFTA is a trick question which people hardly ever get right. They think the 'A' stands for agreement, as in Free Trade Agreement. Of course it stands for Area. There was a time when there was also 'ex-EFTA' which was indecipherable even to aficionados, but the game hadn't been invented back then. Anyway, enough history: what remains of EFTA can be compared to a regulation-lite European Union, and focuses on the single market and trade agreements, as at this week's meeting, which wins it, or rather them, a star. 'Them' is Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, so it's a cheap and cheerful way of bringing three new countries into the table.