Tax agency publishes annual ‘rich lists’

The earnings of Norwegian ship magnates, heirs to tobacco fortunes, the prime minister and a couple of comedians were all laid bare on Friday, when the tax agency published its annual tax lists.

With Norwegian wealth continuing to draw interest among Norwegians, it was revealed that one of Norway’s richest men, Kjell Inge Røkke, earned nothing in 2010 despite his 8 billion kroner ($1.43 billion) fortune.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg meanwhile earned roughly the same as Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Større — or about 1.9 million kroner ($339,100) — despite the foreign minister’s 41-million-kroner inheritance and larger-by-200,000-kroner tax bill.

Among the changes to how wealth is taxed in Norway over the past year was the introduction of a “fortune tax” without which “the rich would never have paid tax”, in the worlds of Labour Party Trade Minister Trond Giske.

The three highest taxpayers in the country in 2010 were real estate tycoon Olaf Thon (paid 116 million kroner in tax on his 24 billion kroner empire); businessman Trond Mohn who paid 142 million kroner and was Norway’s top earner (260 million kroner) and tobacco heir Johan Henrik Andresen Jr.: he put 139 million kroner back into the public coffers and is the country’s richest resident billionaire with a fortune of 12 billion kroner.

The thought-provoking online tax lists are among a number of private figures made public by authorities in Norway. The country has won praise for the openness but criticism among some who have not relished their numbers going public.

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