Sweden: Proposed Reduction in Corporate Tax Rate
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(Sep 24, 2012)
The Swedish government has put forward a proposal to reduce the corporate tax rate in 2013 from the current level of 26.3% to 22%, an approximately 15% reduction. It is estimated that the measure would cost the state about SEK16 billion (about US$2.4 billion), SEK8.8 billion of which would be funded by stricter rules to limit the deductions companies often claim for interest payments on internal loans. The new rate is to be included in the government's forthcoming budget proposal and, if adopted, would apply from January 1, 2013. The European Union average corporate tax rate is reportedly 23.5%. (Sweden Unveils Plan to Slash CorporateTax Rates, THE LOCAL (Sept. 13, 2012).)
According to Minister for Enterprise Annie Lööf, "[w]e want to provide a stimulus for both small and large businesses … ." (Id.) An additional reason for the cut, according to the government, is that the current corporate tax rate places Sweden at a competitive disadvantage, because it is higher than both the EU and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average rates. Therefore, the government stated, "[t]he significant reduction of the corporate tax is expected to strengthen the investment climate and growth in Sweden." (Id.; Joe Dalton, Eurostat Confirms EU Average Corporate Tax Rate Increases for First Time Since 2001, INTERNATIONAL TAX REVIEW (May 29, 2012) [subscription required for access to full text of the article]; Part II. Taxation of Corporate and Capital Income (2012): Table II.1. Corporate Income Tax Rate, OECD website (last visited Sept. 18, 2012); Veronique de Rugy, Corporate Income Tax Rates in the OECD, Mercatus Center website (May 9, 2011).)
Aside from the corporate tax rate cut proposal, the government also proposed a tax break of up to SEK200,000 (about US$30,439) for individual investors in new businesses or for new financing of existing companies. (Sweden Unveils Plan to Slash Corporate Tax Rates, supra; Johan Carlstrom, Sweden to Cut Corporate Taxes to Attract Business, Create Jobs, BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK (Sept. 13, 2012).) The cost of such a deduction is estimated to entail SEK800 million (about US$121.8 million). The measure would take effect on September 1, 2013,at the earliest because it requires prior approval by the European Commission. (Sweden Unveils Plan to Slash Corporate Tax Rates, supra.)
In the meantime, Finland's Minister of Finance Jutta Urpilainen stated her opposition to any further reduction of Finland's corporate tax rate in order to compete with Sweden's move. The Finnish rate was lowered at the beginning of 2012 from26% to 24.5%. According to Urpilainen, "[t]here are no possibilities for any new significant tax cuts in this situation … . I don't see that Finland should take part in any aggressive tax competition. I do not believe that there would be any winners in such a competition, but there would be many losers, because tax revenues would disappear." (Finance Minister Rejects Tax Competition, HELSINGIN SANOMAT (Sept. 18, 2012).) Urpilainen and Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen pointed out, moreover, that Finland had taken additional business-friendly measures, such as offering incentives for small and medium-sized companies and reducing energy taxes. Some Members of Parliament, however, indicated that they are in favor of adopting a 22% corporate tax rate to keep pace with Sweden. (Id.)
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Last updated: 09/24/2012