When Aftenposten asked to see the Tax Agency’s travel bills, the alarm went off. Now the agency has changed its travel practice after flying business class abroad for years.
For the Norwegian Tax Agency, the objective is to help poor countries develop better tax systems. This costs us Norwegian taxpayers quite a bit.
Several times a year, employees from the Norwegian Tax Administration travel to developing countries such as Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya. The aim is to help them develop well-functioning tax systems.
Millions of tax kroner have been spent on the trips to fly Norwegian aid workers in business class.
Last year alone, NOK 2 million was spent on flights, and the main rule on these trips has been business class, confirms the Norwegian Tax Administration ril NTB. Flight tickets over NOK 50,000 are not unusual.
This is called “tax for development”, and is run by Norad. The project was started in 2011. But Norad stopped using business class in 2021, now the Swedish Tax Agency is following up right after Aftenposten made contact. From the new year their emissaries will travel in the cheapest and most environmentally friendly way.
We became aware last year that Norad had changed its policy. So then we got around and checked out. And then we thought, what do we do? Starting with the new year, we have also changed our travel routines and the starting point is that you should not fly business. You will fly economy, as cheaply as possible, as environmentally friendly as possible and as efficiently as possible, says HR director Ragndi Robøle at the Norwegian Tax Agency.
Norad changed its guidelines in 2021. Aftenposten requested access to the Norwegian Tax Agency on 5 December last year.
The tightening came very shortly after we asked for access to the travel bills. Is it random?
It was a contributing factor. But first we discovered that Norad had tightened up, and then we received the inquiry from you. So in that sense, you can say that you have contributed.
Norwegian aid authorities focus on well-functioning tax systems and stepped this up in 2018. The aim is to make tax collection as efficient as possible.
The Norwegian authorities are experts in this, since we Norwegians are one of the world’s most highly taxed people. As a Norwegian, you will own nothing and your taxes have been spent for years with the help of aid money and public employees on exorbitant plane tickets. But when we look at the Norwegian Tax Authority and ask to fix their website, which is completely useless, it does not seem like the Tax Administration has either the resources or the funds for that.
When do politicians in the Storting say that enough is enough? My estimate is that this will probably never become a reality until the Oil Fund is empty. Then, large parts of the Storting must be replaced.