Tax exiles: Norway tightens the screw

Since coming to power in 2021, the Norwegian government has increased taxes on the richest. And there are dozens of them who preferred to go into exile – in Switzerland, for the most part – than pay the cash register. From now on, the Prime Minister, Jonas Gahr Store, wants to stop this exodus at all costs. His method: toughen the “exit tax” already in force, reports Bloomberg.

Current legislation actually allows payment of the “departure tax” to be postponed indefinitely, at least in the absence of capital gains. A loophole that many rich Norwegians have already taken advantage of.

According to the announced reform, unrealized capital gains (which have not yet materialized through a sale) would now be taxed at 37.8%, from a threshold set at 500,000 crowns (43,900 euros). “Departure taxpayers would have twelve years to pay their tax, in one go or in several installments.”

A reform which provokes very strong reactions from business leaders, who warn that it will only worsen the Norwegian economy’s heavy dependence on oil and gas. According to the country’s employers’ organization, the NHO, this new version of the “exit tax” could affect “Norway’s ability to attract the expertise and risk capital needed for innovation”, while causing a new wave of emigration.

Start-ups on the front line

While the reform a priori targets the super rich, young start-up founders are leading the charge, because they often use stock options to compensate their qualified employees.

“Norway is a very state-controlled oil and gas economy. We really need new industries. Policymakers should step back and think: this tax does not make us competitive on the global stage,” explains Marit Rodevand, whose company, Strise, designs anti-money laundering software.

“Oil wealth has changed the way we live. We know that the oil sector will decline. What will happen ? We have no alternative!” regrets Johan Brand, who decided to domicile Kahoot!, his start-up, in the United Kingdom rather than in Norway, as he had first considered doing.

Parliament must consider the bill in the coming months and it is likely that it will be voted on. But its sustainability is not assured, underlines Bloomberg. If it returns to power in the September 2025 elections, the conservative opposition has vowed to reverse this reform. And for the moment, the polls show the Conservatives winning.

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