NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 2, 2007

Maybe the next Bjorn Borg won't feel compelled to move to Monaco now that Sweden plans to scrap a decades-old "wealth" tax that imposes levies on assets -- not just on income, says the Associated Press.

Not surprisingly, as a result of the tax, many of the wealthiest Swedes have already fled the country:

  • IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad, No. 4 on Forbes magazine's list of the world's richest people, now lives in Switzerland.
  • Five-time Wimbledon winner Bjorn Borg moved to tax-haven Monaco in the late 1970s.
  • The principality is also home to many Swedish sports stars such as Alpine skier Anja Paerson, high-jumper Kajsa Bergqvist and triple jumper Christian Olsson.

Worse, the tax was designed to keep the rich from getting richer -- but is increasingly seen as harming primarily the not-quite-rich upper-middle classes.  As a result, it has been losing favor across the continent:

  • Several European countries have dropped taxes on wealth in the last decade, including Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland.
  • In France, taxes on the rich have become a top campaign issue before the presidential elections in April and May.
  • Luxembourg and Spain are the only other EU countries that impose wealth taxes, according to the Swedish government.

The move underscores the Sweden's efforts to keep successful citizens and their capital at home by changing its fabled but costly welfare state.

"It's not sustainable to keep taxes that radically diverge from other countries,"  Finance Minister Anders Borg, who is not related to the tennis great, told the Associated Press yesterday.  "Not if you want the money to stay in the country."

Source: Editorial, "Swedes finally scrap the wealth tax," Edmonton Sun, March 30, 2007.


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