Annika Lidne runs a startup company in Stockholm and also lobbies on behalf of the startup community.
Annika Lidne runs a startup company in Stockholm and also lobbies on behalf of the startup community. Credit: Photo: Radio Sweden

Startups at odds over stock option tax changes

3:35 min

The government's draft budget proposes taxing stock options as capital gains when sold, instead of straight income, which can mean a much smaller tax burden for people when they cash them in.

The startup community has been pushing for changes, saying it will make it easier for business to recruit talent. Startups often don't have a lot of money to pay employees, but they can attract them by offering them part ownership in the form of stock options.

But Annika Lidne, who is the CEO of a two-person startup company that helps TV and film producers stay organized, and who also lobbies on behalf of the industry, says that what the government has offered is too little, too late.

"I'm super disappointed," Lidne tells Radio Sweden. "Yeah, it's a small concession, but it doesn't solve the problem."

She explains that she is unhappy with the limits on the legislation, which she feels cramps the ability for companies to grow in Sweden. For example, the legislation only applies to companies that are up to 10 years old and have up to 50 employees, with a net turnover or balance sheet total of SEK 80 million. She also holds that the rules are still so complicated that startups still need to hire a lawyer at a significant cost to be able to set up the program. She's been considering moving her company abroad, where she believes it would have a better chance to grow, and she said that this new proposal won't change her plans.

But Tahero Nori, the founder of a Stockholm-based company that matches freelance tech experts with people who need tech support, says the proposal is "better now than never" and that he's happy about it. He says it will give him the chance to recruit more people to his company, which is less than two years old and currently has 13 employees.

"You need always from the beginning some kind of push and support, and this is what it will be affecting us," Nori says. "So now, we can definitely be out there and bring talented people to our company, in the sense that they can work hard to build this company together with us and they will gain out of it in the long term."

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