It’s too bad for Norway’s ruling center-right party that Warren Buffett isn’t a resident. After becoming the object of unceasing criticism by their politicized slashing of taxes and funding a profligate spending program with the country’s oil wealth, Norway’s center-right party hit upon a novel idea: Impose a “voluntary” tax, according to Bloomberg.
However, when it came time to tally the total for this past fiscal year, the great northern policy ploy failed to evoke in the country’s 5.3 million citizens a patriotic fervor: When it was all said and done, the government collected $1,325.
Launched in June, the initiative has received a lukewarm reception, with the equivalent of just $1,325 in extra revenue being collected so far, according to the Finance Ministry. That’s not much for a country of 5.3 million people, many of whom are already accustomed to paying some of the highest taxes in the world (the top rate of income tax is 46.7 percent).
“The tax scheme was set up to allow those who want to pay more taxes to do so in a simple and straightforward way,” Finance Minister Siv Jensen said in an emailed comment.
“If anyone thinks the tax level is too low, they now have the chance to pay more.”
Left-of-center opposition parties claimed the tax cuts would benefit the richest and boost inequality. Jonas Gahr Store, the wealthy Labor Party contender who is leading in the polls ahead of the September 11 elections, has so far refused to take up the government’s offer.
Ironically, it was Store, whose net worth is $8 million, who prodded the government into action by complaining earlier this year that he had ended up paying less taxes under the current administration.
“This is an election campaign showcase by the government,” said Harald Jacobsen, a political adviser at the Labor party, who argues that the scheme has cost more than what it has generated
Rather than engaging in political distractions, the government should aggressively target multinationals like Facebook or Google, which skirt the law to minimize their tax contributions, Jacobsen said