economy

Deadline for Tax Returns Approaches

Monday is the last day to hand in your tax returns here in Sweden, something which used to be a huge event, unsurprising perhaps for a country with high taxes like this. But going through the figures and filing your tax return is much less painful than it used to be, with more and more Swedes choosing to declare their income and apply for tax rebates electronically.

The last day to hand in the return used to be a big event. Some people almost made a thing of posting it straight in the tax offices' post box at the very last minute close to midnight, with the media gathered to film it all, and interviewing those daring citizens.

Those days are gone now, as the growth of the internet and mobile phones means many people don't even have to hand in a form, but can rather simply approve the sums given by the taxman online. 60% of Swedes now file their tax returns electronically, and the aim is to get that figure up to 80% within a few years. Kaj Koher from Sweden's Tax Authority says there are clear differences both in people's age and where they live, when it comes to whether they send in their return electronically or in the more traditional way.

People living in the poorer suburb of Rinkeby are much better att sending back the simpler form of the tax return electronically, he says, while more in the rich area of Danderyd hand in paper forms.

And younger people are also better at using their mobiles and computers to file the return, says Kaj Koher from the Swedish Tax Authority. Up to 80 percent of those born in the 70's and 80's file electronically. And for those that declare their incomes electronically, there is a bonus, if their employers have paid too much tax for them, then they can get the money back in their bank accounts by the middle of June. If you send in a form, it can take longer.

And filing your tax return electronically in Sweden is fairly easy. Employers send all the information about your pay automatically to the tax man, who then fill in the tax return for you. If it's correct, and you aren't going to try to make changes, or apply for tax rebates for journey to work, or renovations to your house for example, then all you have to do is send a text message with your social security number and a special code, and then it's done.

Then of course the taxman will start to go through it with a fine toothed comb. Each year the authorities take a special look at different parts of the tax form, to make sure people are applying for the right rebates, and are not trying to do them out of tax income. This year, they'll be looking especially at the tax forms of those people that have applied for money back due to journeys to and from work, as well as those who want rebates for property and stock sales.

For those filling out the forms the old fashioned way with pen and paper, it's too late now to stick it in the post, so they may well have to make that trip to the tax office on Monday anyway, but this year, there won't be as many cameras as there used to be.

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