Supreme Court ruling may have consequences for property tax in Norway
3,400 private individuals have sued the City of Oslo regarding property tax for the tax year 2016. The outcome may have consequences throughout Norway – if the plaintiffs win through in the Supreme Court.
“I am pleased that the Supreme Court has decided to deal with this principally important matter. I look forward to having it finally decided on,” Councillor of Finance in Oslo, Robert Steen (Labour), states after it became known that Norway’s highest court accepted the case.
The City of Oslo was fully upheld by the Oslo District Court. Borgarting Court of Appeal disagreed, however, partly to that ruling in October last year. The Court of Appeal considered that the municipality hadn’t complied with the statutory deadline for writing out a property tax. The municipality of Oslo thus risks having to repay several hundred million NOK to the plaintiffs.
“No municipality that wishes to introduce property tax will have time to issue it with effect from the first year of a term – If the ruling is upheld,” according to the City of Oslo.
Three days are set aside to process the case, which starts on Monday.
Treats the legality
In addition to the controversy over the deadline for issuing a property tax, the plaintiffs have argued that the actual tax model is illegal. The plaintiff’s main point is that the deduction threshold is set so high that many homeowners do not pay any property tax.
The City of Oslo has won both in the District Court and the Court of Appeal on this, but this part of the ruling will also be considered by the Supreme Court.
“We cannot see that new factors have emerged in the counterparty’s appeal and have great faith that the Supreme Court will come to the same conclusion as the District Court and the Court of Appeal,” Steen believes.
Both parties have appealed the ruling of the Borgarting Court of Appeal.
The rich and the famous
The Norwegian Association of Homeowners was a party to the lawsuit in the District Court but chose to withdraw before it came up before the Court of Appeal.
The newspaper VG has also found several politicians from the Conservatives in Oslo among those who sue their own municipality.
Among them, City Council representatives Hermann Alexander Kopp and Per Trygve Hoff.
Political resistance against property tax
It is currently up to each municipality to decide whether or not they want a property tax. The Progress Party wishes to deprive the municipalities of this opportunity. A majority of the Norwegian Parliament, however, wants to hang on to the current system.
According to figures from Statistics Norway 370 of Norway’s 422 municipalities has some form of property tax. The tax applies to the entire municipality in 260 of those.
The Labour-led council in Oslo wants to keep the property tax, while the opposition, led by the Conservative Party, wants to remove it. The Conservatives are currently the largest party on the polls ahead of this autumn’s municipal elections. The current city council still seems to remain in power, though. They need support from Red to achieve this according to some polls.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today