More cheats should be jailed: tax office

One third of Norwegians feel there's little risk in being caught cheating the tax man, a conference on financial security has heard in Oslo.

It’s too high a number for tax authorities who say a blanket 30 percent penalty tax for all manner of tax-time mistakes and omissions isn’t having the desired effect. They want more tax cheats in jail.

“The moment of truth is when they risk being locked up,” the tax office’s legal head, Sven Rune Greni, was quoted by Dagens Næringsliv as saying.

“They can live with pentaly tax, especially when there’s money to be had,” said Greni.

The sense of impunity is greatest in the building sector, where 41 percent of the companies surveyed said they believed their tax omissions are not likely to be found out, according to the survey by Naeringslivet Sikkerhetsraad.

Greni said he wants more resources for police who admit they have to drop many of the cases they get for lack of resources.

Tax authorities, however, have been guilty of equating serious offenders with those making innocent mistakes on tax forms. The 30-percent tax is applied to all, from the language-challenged newcomer whose hired accountants erred on their tax returns to people poaching wood from construction sites to build their dream homes.

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