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7 October, 2019

Where, Why and How? Swedish Taxes

A guide to where our tax money goes and the pros and cons of a high tax society.

Sweden has a progressive income tax and income thresholds are regulated each year. On each earning over this figure you will also pay national income taxes, with the money going to the state. Tax on an income between 18,900kr- 440,000kr is 30%. An income between 440,000kr- 640,000kr will be taxed an additional 20% and another 5% on incomes above 640,000kr. These taxes are for employment income only.

Where does all our money go?

Swedish Public Spending can be broken down into 6 categories. With the highest percentage (42%) of tax money going to Social Protection. Education and General public services are both at 13%, 8% goes to Economic affairs, 3% to Public Order & Safety, 2% to Defence and the remaining 4% to other needs addressed by the nation. From police and fire services, law courts and prisons all the way to sick leave, disability care, housing, social protection and unemployment benefits – Sweden provides us with just about everything.

Reaping the family benefits

Sweden is one of the few countries in the world who provide financial support to every parent, no matter your income. As a parent, you are entitled to an allowance of 1250kr/ per month/ per child until they have reached 16 years of age. Student allowance and loans are available after the age of 16. Among all the benefits of being a parent in Sweden, is the 480 days of parental leave that everyone is eligible to take. Whether you split the time with your partner or are a single parent, you will receive 80% of your income for 380 days of your parental leave. The remaining 90 days you will receive 180kr/day.

Healthcare, is it as good as we think?

Sweden is built up of 21 different regions (also known as Landsting) Each region is responsible for providing healthcare. As of 2019, county councils now cover dental care costs for all residents up to the age of 23. After 23, dental care is subsidised by the state. In some regions dental care is covered until the age of 26. On top of dental care – elderly care, disabled care, school healthcare and mental illness support are also provided through Swedens healthcare system.

To learn more about Swedens first mental health ambulance follow the link below: https://apolitical.co/solution_article/worlds-first-mental-health-ambulance-arrives-sweden/

Did you know? The average life span of a women in Sweden is 84 years old, and for a man 81. Sweden strives to promote good health for the entire population and due to this, Sweden has one of the highest amounts of elderly people in all of Europe – you can definitely say it pays to promote a healthy lifestyle!

Cons of the healthcare system

With every affordable healthcare system there are always flaws. Before my move from Canada to Sweden, I was under the impression that Sweden offered free healthcare. I was in fact wrong! Every doctor appointment/ hospital visit costs on average between 200kr to 500kr (€19-€30) But with that being said, Sweden has capped an individuals healthcare fees at 1150kr/per year. For all you newcomers to Sweden, booking an appointment 3-6 weeks in advance may seem absurd but in order to secure a doctors appointment in Sweden, it is usually encouraged to do so far in advance. My personal experience with the Swedish healthcare system has been some what neutral. I have not been overwhelmingly happy about my healthcare guidance nor disappointed. One thing I will say, is that Sweden does not have the “free” healthcare system that is so commonly portrayed.

Education in Sweden

Among the many brilliant ideas Swedes have come up with ie Seat belts, Spotify, IKEA – the list is endless! – the one thing that really struck my eye was the subsidised pre-schooling. With low income families paying little to nothing and higher income families paying a maximum of 1425kr/ per month (around €135/month) it gives every parent the chance to send their child to preschool! In 1992 the Independent School Reform made it possible for families to send their child to any school, state run or independent. The law states that children have equal right to education regardless of gender, ethnic or political background and economic status of their families. By providing free education from age 6 to 19, children are introduced to an educational environment where everyone is welcome. Alongside free schooling, books, bus passes and meals are provided for each and every student until they are in their last year of high school. If a student chooses to continue their education, free post secondary is also provided to any EU national. No matter your age, as a resident of the European Union, you are entitled to as many bachelor degrees, masters programs and PhD’s as you would like – without paying a dime (for all you North Americans who know what a dime is!) Sweden is very unique in the sense that it is one of the few countries where all education is state financed through taxes, but there are also both public and private-owned schools in which compete for future prospect students.

Other tax money benefits…

Moving to Sweden is in my opinion, a step in the right direction, no matter where you come from! When you first arrive you will be given a personal identification number in which deems you a resident of Sweden, for as long as you live and work here. Svenska för invandrare, or commonly known as “Swedish for Immigrants” is a federally sponsored program in which offers free Swedish courses for all who are interested in learning the language. Although the classes have mixed reviews, I think it is a great way to start integrating yourself into the Swedish culture and life. After all, Swedish is the national language of Sweden!

The 3 levels of tax: State, Regional and Municipal

In Sweden there are three (3) separate government bodies, State, Regional and municipal. The state taxes we all pay in Sweden go towards social security, higher education, national infrastructure, military defences, Swedens legal system, migration and a small fraction of the healthcare system. Regional taxes pay for all other aspects of health care and Swedens regional infrastructure. Municipality taxes pay for city schools and other localised facilities.

For generations, majority of Swedes have accepted the high tax society they call home.

“What is perhaps more surprising to most people than Sweden’s high tax rates, is the average Swede’s tolerance and respect for the taxation system and the government agency that handles it.”

Although the tax percentage is high, Swedes have, in my opinion, one of the best qualities of life. No matter the circumstance, Sweden continues to look after its people and provide them with the best possible care.

For links to more information regarding Swedens tax system or frequently asked questions please refer to the links below.

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2008/nov/16/sweden-tax-burden-welfare https://www.forsakringskassan.se/wps/wcm/connect/6986fee9-055f-4cf1-b1b2-e701f316a31d/293-aktuella-belopp-2019-01.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CVID= https://sweden.se https://www.skatteverket.se/servicelankar/otherlanguages/inenglish.4.12815e4f14a62bc048f4edc.html

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Georgia Lane
Hi all! I moved to Stockholm almost 2 years ago from Canada & I’ve been loving every minute of it! I know first hand how hard it can be to navigate your new life in Sweden as an expat - so I’m here to help and share my insight on different problems/situations you may run into as an international who doesn’t yet speak Swedish. Enjoy!

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