Finland must improve the transparency of business and tax information, Finnwatch demands

The organization recalled that shortcomings in business and tax transparency increase the risk of corruption and constitute an obstacle to the investigation of and tax evasion. performed poorly in the index in terms of the transparency of companies ‘ownership information, as the beneficiary’s information register is not open to everyone and contains only information on the companies’ largest shareholders.

This has made it challenging to trace the wealth of oligarchs who have been subject to economic sanctions following ’s invasion of .

“Journalists and non-governmental organizations investigating in Finland must apply for permission to obtain information from the register for the beneficiary. It is also difficult to use the register: in order to get information, you really need to know in advance what you are looking for, told me Saara HietanenFinnwatch’s tax expert.

The report also criticized Finland for not requesting companies’ financial statements from the trade register and that the tax rulings issued by the court are not entirely public or -based. In addition, companies in the country are not required to prepare comprehensive country-specific tax reports that clarify their tax liability and other key metrics.

Unlike the index, Finnwatch also questioned the adequacy of country-specific reporting obligations for state-owned companies.

“There are serious shortcomings in the reporting requirements for state-owned companies, and despite the promises, the revised reporting model has not yet been published,” Hietanen complained.

Finnwatch said that current public income data account for only 74 per cent of total capital income, ie about 3.4 of the reported capital income of EUR 13.3 billion in 2019 was not reflected in the public data. This distorts public income data, especially since capital income, including tax-free capital income, is most common in high-income earners.

When public tax information does not include tax-free revenue, citizens may be left with a misconception about actual tax rates.

“Fortunately, the problem is easy to fix, as the tax administration already has data on tax-free capital gains. The only question is whether there is a political will to increase transparency, Hietanen said.

Finland has dropped 17 places – that is, improved its ranking – in the index of 141 since 2018. The United States, Switzerland, , Hong Kong and topped the index compiled annually by the Tax Justice Network. The least secret countries in the , on the other hand, were Montserrat, , Nauru, Gambia and Slovenia.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Source: The Nordic Page

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