Doing Taxes

This is not an April fools joke. It took Marie about three minutes to do her taxes for Sweden. It will probably take me half a day to do US taxes, perhaps more.

In Sweden, the taxing authority, Skatteverket, mails you a completed tax return. It is done, everything filled in, complete. You can sign it and mail it back, you can send them an SMS text saying OK, you can go on the web, or simple call them and enter a code. Of course you can also amend or contest what they send you, but if they got it right, filing taxes is a three minute process.

The reason for this convenience is that everything is recorded throughout the year. US conspiracy theorists would not be happy. Your “personal number” — Social Security number in the US — is tied to everything. So they know what money you received, and from where, and the payer was responsible for submitting the taxes.

Of course there is a cash economy as well among independent contractors . But businesses will not get a tax benefit for paying contractors under the table, so this is primarily person-to-person.

There are a lot of folks who think taxes in a socialist country like Sweden are horrible. They are high — especially the national sales tax of 25% — but with no insurance premium it is $18 for me to see a doctor, about $13 for physical therapy, which I start next week.