Politics

Election Campaign Clashes on Tax Cuts for HouseHold Services in Sweden

It has now become clear that one of the biggest issues in the ongoing election campaigns for both sides hoping to win the September parliament elections in Sweden is the issue of  tax deductions for maids, cleaning personel, gardening and other household services.

All four center-right coalition government parties are boasting that this program helps today’s stressed family, where both parents work, cope with life. They say it's created new jobs in these times of high unemployment and have transformed much of the illegal, black market labour force into a law-abiding service paying their income taxes.

  

Hoping to win another four years in power, the ruling Moderate Conservatives, the Liberals, the Center Party and the Christian Democrats fiercely defend the deductions as a symbolic choice for the voters.

The three parties in the opposition, the Social Democrats – hoping to get back into power this time in an alliance with the Left Party and the Greens – on Tuesday announced that they will kill the deductions if they win the elections.

On Wednesday, several media outlets reported that despite the announcement, several leading members of the Social Democrats used the system to pay for domestic help.

The Social Democrats who have ruled Sweden on their own for decades claim credit to converting a once poverty-stricken Sweden and its armies of poorly-paid and miserably treated servants and farm hands into a welfare state with dwindling class differences – and the idea of bringing back the maid to serve the rich families curdles political blood.

The opposition argues that it’s a myth that so many new jobs have been created, pointing out that almost all of those covered by the deductions are immigrant women working only part time and denied real access to the labor market and full time jobs. They add that the nation’s tax payers should not  subsidize the maid service for the wealthy.

Worried about losing votes, a few leading Social Democrats are searching for compromises – suggesting that the programme could be saved in some way for the penioners and the disabled – and some admit that they too have used the tax deductions denounced by the party. 

One study claiming that most of those enlisting this help are not that reach at all falls short of reality since it only looks at the employer – not the joint income of both working parents.

Nevertheless, the election campaign battles promise to continue – with the maid service issue growing hotter every day.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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