Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Almighty Buck

Norway, the Country Where No Salaries Are Secret (bbc.com) 218

In Norway, there are no such secrets. Anyone can find out how much anyone else is paid -- and it rarely causes problems. From a report: In the past, your salary was published in a book. A list of everyone's income, assets and the tax they had paid, could be found on a shelf in the public library. These days, the information is online, just a few keystrokes away. The change happened in 2001, and it had an instant impact. "It became pure entertainment for many," says Tom Staavi, a former economics editor at the national daily, VG. "At one stage you would automatically be told what your Facebook friends had earned, simply by logging on to Facebook. It was getting ridiculous." Transparency is important, Staavi says, partly because Norwegians pay high levels of income tax -- an average of 40.2 percent compared to 33.3 percent in the UK, according to Eurostat, while the EU average is just 30.1 percent. "When you pay that much you have to know that everyone else is doing it, and you have to know that the money goes to something reasonable," he says. "We [need to] have trust and confidence in both the tax system and in the social security system."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Norway, the Country Where No Salaries Are Secret

Comments Filter:
  • by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @06:17AM (#54856999)

    News? When the article is about something that happened 16 years ago?

    • But it's 'from a report' so it must be important...
    • And it's the same in Sweden since many years.

    • Re:2001? (Score:5, Informative)

      by eastlight_jim ( 1070084 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @11:29AM (#54857871)

      The reason it's in the current news (at least on the BBC) is that the BBC have recently published the salaries of many of their top earners for the first time. The discussion has arisen because many are earning in the millions and are effectively paid from the public purse (well, licence fee but all the same in the end...).

      Original article [bbc.co.uk]

    • Re:2001? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @12:48PM (#54858159)

      It's still news to Americans that the world doesn't implode simply because someone knows how much you get paid, or why you went to see the doctor last week.

  • that kind of transparency generates a social pressure for high earners to justify their income.

    • Re:I wonder if... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @06:24AM (#54857017)

      I don't see it making it hard to justify a large salary, what I see it being a complication for, is large yearly bonuses for management, while the rank and file get shafted.

      Generalized higher pay grades, even really obscene ones, would not really be an obstacle as long as they 1) pay their proper % of tax, and 2) have that income as a steady, constant thing.

      It is when the managers make up fairy stories about how "We gotta do triple shifts or the company will go under! OMG!", pay everyone beneath them peanuts, and then give themselves huge, fat bonuses at the end of the year for "Doing such a great job!!" that people will notice it, and then raise cain.

      I personally would LOVE to see this level of wage transparency in the US-- It would make a great many HR, and management teams break out in cold, bloody sweats.

      • I personally would LOVE to see this level of wage transparency in the US-- It would make a great many HR, and management teams break out in cold, bloody sweats.

        I dunno. I could just as easily see an HR department using that against you.

        "Well, we'd really love to give you a raise, but we'd have problems if everyone saw how much more you're making..."

        Any Norwegians here? Would love to hear how this actually affects your relationship with your employer and fellow employees.

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          I dunno. I could just as easily see an HR department using that against you.

          "Well, we'd really love to give you a raise, but we'd have problems if everyone saw how much more you're making..."

          Any Norwegians here? Would love to hear how this actually affects your relationship with your employer and fellow employees.

          That's the general fear about making salaries transparent - that high earners will have to justify their high salaries and thus see that it might be lowered. What really happens is those who make

        • by Terje Mathisen ( 128806 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @10:59AM (#54857765)

          As the article stated, it used to be that everything was completely open and searchable on the internet for a few years, before that point you had to visit city hall (or the post office) and manually search through huge books.

          The current setup is actually very nice, in that the transparency goes both ways:

          In order to be allowed to access any tax records you first have to use the same two-factor authentication you would use to deliver your own tax return, and if you then look at any tax return except your own, the person you looked up will be notified that you did so.

          I.e. if I think my neighbors are spending too much money and want to check what they have declared, they will immediately be told that I did so.

          Terje

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            Someone should set up an exchange website where people can do look ups for other people in exchange for them doing requests on their behalf. All the person being checked knows is that some random person they don't know made a request.

            • That's actually a good idea, or it would have been if Norwegians hadn't been both trusting and trustworthy.

              I.e. there have been several international comparisons where Norway end up with very high productivity, supposedly because the fact that we can (at least mostly) trust people.

              My favorite story is the time when I lost my wallet on the bus and someone who did the cleaning for the bus company found it and phoned me three weeks later (it had gotten stuck between the seat cushions.)

          • I.e. if I think my neighbors are spending too much money and want to check what they have declared, they will immediately be told that I did so.

            Terje

            How about doing it this way - the moment you checked up on anybody's salary, not only would they be notified that you looked it up, they would also as a bonus be told what you earn! And let them do whatever they like w/ that information

        • Re:I wonder if... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @02:58PM (#54858667)

          "Well, we'd really love to give you a raise, but we'd have problems if everyone saw how much more you're making..."

          That is a Good Thing. If two people are doing equal work, one should not get a raise just for being more assertive.

          • by ranton ( 36917 )

            "Well, we'd really love to give you a raise, but we'd have problems if everyone saw how much more you're making..."

            That is a Good Thing. If two people are doing equal work, one should not get a raise just for being more assertive.

            What makes you think they are doing equal work?

      • "I don't see it making it hard to justify a large salary, what I see it being a complication for, is large yearly bonuses for management, while the rank and file get shafted."

        But in Norway, doesn't the tax system give everyone about the same net income, no matter how much they may gross?

        • But in Norway, doesn't the tax system give everyone about the same net income, no matter how much they may gross?

          Nope. Some other European countries have high tax brackets for big earners, but Norway's top tax bracket is only 39%, which is lower than the USA: https://taxfoundation.org/how-... [taxfoundation.org]

        • But in Norway, doesn't the tax system give everyone about the same net income, no matter how much they may gross?

          No. The base tax is 36%, but there's a decent base deduction on the gross income to find the taxable income. Then, if you make more than a certain amount (taxable, higher than the average income) you pay an extra ~10% on the amount above that limit.

      • Re:I wonder if... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo&world3,net> on Saturday July 22, 2017 @09:04AM (#54857373) Homepage Journal

        Wage transparency is great for so many reasons. As well as preventing the kind of abuse you describe, it also makes it easy to get a fair salary without heavy negotiation, and be sure you aren't getting screwed over.

        As a result it also tends to drive down various pay gaps (gender, ethnicity etc). Some people claim that such gaps don't really exist, but the fact that they are reduced in countries with wage transparency disproves that.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The US has a much different culture when it comes to social justice. Old countries, like Norway and Japan, have more of a sense of community than the US, where no-one gives fuck about anybody but themselves. In business negotiations a deal can be struck where the opposing party may suffer irreparable damage, where in civilized countries though is given to the other party's survival.
        The US was founded on conquest, genocide, slavery, and war. The Land of the Free's constitution was written by slave owners who

    • by Megol ( 3135005 )

      Really? No. Just no.

    • I doubt it. People already roughly know what others are earning. Where it might help is with tax dodges. People complain about high earners, but these can in turn point out at the public record of their tax return and show that they contribute to the public coffers accordingly. But someone showing a €1M income paying only €50k in taxes has some explaining to do.

      Though personally I lean more towards the guys who came up with the window tax [wikipedia.org], which is exactly what you think it is. It's often
      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        This eliminates the situation where lawful people don't even ask because it's against company policy

        It's much easier to know you are underpaid, and then perhaps do something about it, if there's complete transparency.

        Of course it could work both ways.

  • Same in Finland. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 22, 2017 @06:31AM (#54857023)

    Same thing in Finland, everyones total income is public, of course you don't nesseccary know how much you peers salaries are as, they might have additional income from through other work etc. However income from stock and other investments are show separately as they have different tax structure.

  • by hughbar ( 579555 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @06:52AM (#54857073) Homepage
    Certainly, given the avoidance in the UK by Google etc., it would be nice to know exactly what all the corporates are [not]paying compared to their turnover in the territory. I say turnover, because there's less possibility of manipulation and it will give some guide to profitability.

    Profit is easy to manipulate, in order to make tax liabilities disappear, yet the offending company still uses the infrastructure in the country. This is a point made by Warren Buffett, that well-known communist, not specifically by me.

    That way, we know which companies to boycott. And yes, since you're asking, I have no FB account, don't buy anything from Google ads and am beginning to minimise my use of Amazon. https://www.hive.co.uk/ [hive.co.uk] support local bookshops in the UK, for example.
  • is 40% high (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <sjc@nOsPam.carpanet.net> on Saturday July 22, 2017 @07:32AM (#54857143) Homepage

    I mean I know we Americans like to pretend to have low taxes, but, in reality, we just have a lot of misdirection and backdoor taxes.

    Every fee you pay for a government service, especially the ones they impose on you like driver's licenses which need to be renewed for some reason and the same with car registrations. Then they setup their regulations to maximize offences so they can disproportionately rake in money from the poor. Those fines are all taxes really.

    40%? That isn't far off from some estimates I have seen for totals of what a lot of Americans give our worthless government.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Just as a datapoint: I earn about $54k in Norway, and I paid an effective 36% in direct taxes, plus the sales taxes (25%, 12% on food).

    • 40% income tax is high, and on top of that is VAT. You get taxed 40% on what you earn, and 18% or 25% on most of what you spend.

      • Re: is 40% high (Score:4, Informative)

        by mikael ( 484 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @09:22AM (#54857437)

        Entry level graduate earns around 250K NOK (Norwegian Kronor). Senior Engineer earns around 550K NOK.

        Mobile smartphones are between 5000 and 6000 NOK. Mobile network connection seemed to come in two bills of about 1500NOK each. Electricity bills were split up into network/distribution and production but didn't cost more than 600NOK/quarter. Internet access costs would be subsidized by the employer. Weekly shopping is around 800NOK for one person (Meny, Rema1000) but use-by-dates were only a couple of days, as everything is imported from the rest of Europe.

        There's a vehicle import duty of 25K NOK, so everyone usually ends up buying the high-end range of cars and vans - with large touchscreen at the center of the vehicle. Homes started at 250K NOK. Student places rent for 700NOK, luxury apartments 1500NOK.

        You have all the catalog brand names: H&M's, Dressmann. Narvesen is the equivalent of WH Smiths and convenience stores. They stock newspapers, confectionary, magazines as well as hot food like hot dogs wrapped in bacon.

    • >"40%? That isn't far off from some estimates I have seen for totals of what a lot of Americans give our worthless government."

      Do you REALLY think income tax is all the taxes they pay? You completely skipped VAT, employer's SS tax, corporate tax (which gets passed onto the price of everything), excise tax, property tax, Inheritance and gift tax.

      • Property tax (private) is part of the stated 40% (which I have never been close to. More like 33-35%).
        There is no gift tax or inheritance tax.
        Also note that the tax inclued health insurance, and public pension (although most people have a private one paid by the employer on top of the public one).
    • by Shimbo ( 100005 )

      If you look at the title of the spreadsheet, or scroll right and see that the totals add to 100%, you'll discover that it's about the breakdown of taxes and nothing to do with the total amount of taxes.

      So, in a way you are correct: Norway is relatively up front in taxing income and raising money in other ways. Poor research in the original article though.

    • That isnt quite the way it is in the U.S. Above a certain size a corporation can buy into the tax breaks that are said to lower our "actual corporate tax rates" below officially being the highest in the world.

      Small to mid-sized businesses generally dont get any of those breaks. America has a very hostile tax environment for small to mid-sized businesses. The highest rates in the world. These arent VAT taxes but they are quite similar in actuality. A tax on profits might as well be a tax on added-value.
      • Re:is 40% high (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @08:27AM (#54857249) Homepage

        Actually being a small business is very advantageous. While "rates" may be high, you can deduct pretty much anything. This is in stark contrast to an individual wage earner that has to bear nearly 100% of work related costs.

        Corporate tax rates even for small businesses are only relevant to profits after all expenses including wages.

        Even lush bennies for low paid employees can be seen as a tax dodge for the business owner.

        • You can't deduct things from your profit. You deduct expenses from revenue to get the profit you're taxed on. Taxing a company's revenue makes zero sense unless you want to randomly bankrupt all low-margin businesses.

        • by PPH ( 736903 )

          Which is why the IRS will rape you if you are a sole proprietor contractor. Particularly with only a few or one client.

          Even lush bennies for low paid employees

          The IRS gives companies serious tax breaks and leeway on deductions in return for their complicity in enforcing tax regulations on individuals. Actually let your rank and file employees use too many legal tax breaks and your company will get audited into the ground. Lincoln freed the slaves, but our government still isn't happy about seeing people walking around without masters.

        • You haven't actually run a small business, have you? Deductions can't increase profit because to get a deduction you have to spend the money on something. So to avoid paying $3 in taxes, you have to spend $10 on something. Meaning you've got a net loss of $7 ($10 spent, $3 saved on taxes). You do gain whatever you bought with the $10, but if your business didn't need it, that's an inefficient use of funds.

          Or to put it another way, why pay $10 for benefits for low-paid employees to get a $3 tax deduct
      • Yeah, we're not the highest, for the G20 we're 3rd place behind Argentina and Indonesia [taxfoundation.org] when it comes to average effective corporate tax rate.
        • See, "average effective" meaning "yeah, not the tax rate"
          ,br> The point is that not everyone gets those tax deductions. Startups in this country pay the highest rate in the world no matter how many times you try to refute it with bullshit.
          • Huh? I was trying to support your position. I don't think many people consider Argentina and Indonesia "hotbeds of innovative startups"... We're way overtaxed compared to most of the developed world... Oh, and average means the ACTUAL tax rate paid. Marginal rates puts us at the top, but most companies do get at least a few deductions (and I know about small businesses - I've started and sold 4 so far, and have two more going, one a fairly large VC play in SF) which helps get us to "only the 3rd most t
    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      Sure. Your car registration is SUCH a burden. If that's all that you can think of then your argument is pants.

    • Re:is 40% high (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CanadianRealist ( 1258974 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @10:37AM (#54857705)
      Don't forget to figure in your health care costs. That's a service which most (first world) governments provide, using money paid by taxes.
    • like driver's licenses which need to be renewed for some reason a

      I can't speak for everyone, but I don't look anything like the picture that was on my drivers license 20 years ago.

      • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

        I can't speak for everyone, but I can't remember the last time I cared what the photo on the government issued card I shouldn't really need for much of anything looked like.

  • by mapkinase ( 958129 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @08:07AM (#54857207) Homepage Journal

    if you are a federal worker, your salary is not a secret.

    Except that in contrast to Norway it is harder to find

  • In Slashdot salaries aren't secret too. I made $50k in Silicon Valley in IT with bonuses. What about you?
  • with 0 transparency. When will the US catch up? I would love to see this shit here. There would be CEO blood in the streets and it would be glorious.

    • Since when are CEO salaries not public in the US? Are you talking about pretentious small or medium sized business owners who call themself CEO to feel bigger? When I hear CEO I generally assume we're talking about a publicly owned company. Are there publicly owned companies that don't report executive compensation? I thought it was mandatory. I certainly know the total compensation of the executives of the company I work for from reading the SEC filings.

      I'd be shocked if the union reps negotiating contract

  • The rich never want you to learn about or talk about money or finance.
  • by nehumanuscrede ( 624750 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @10:21AM (#54857661)

    But it would go a long way in calling bullshit on an employer who tells you no on a payraise because " budgets are tight " all the while paying each of their execs a yearly bonus that exceeds your lifetime income.

    This sort of transparency would cause a great deal of discomfort for those companies who regularly lie to their employees.

    In fact, those companies would find it difficult to keep any employees and, in the end, might have difficulty being a company at all when all of their talent leaves because of it.

    The Income Inequality gap in the US is so wide now, this level of transparency would likely cause a great deal of anger at best.

    An insane amount of violence at worst.

  • by rbrander ( 73222 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @01:41PM (#54858325) Homepage

    ...and any time pricing information is concealed, it's NOT a free market.

    You know the only people who WANT a free market, really want one? Small actors who have no leverage. The BEST deal you can get when you're small is a fair one, as produced by a free market. Every large actor (the company vs you, at salary time, say) wants a closed market, so they can use their size advantage. The Company knows EVERY salary in the company (and they always want to know what you were paid at every previous job, when you apply) while you only know your own, at negotiation time. That's a huge advantage for them, which they always wish to preserve.

    • My employer (a fortune 100 company) provides every employee with a personalized annual report showing the target salary range for their job title and exactly where their current salary falls relative to the low and high ends of the range. The internal job listings show the target salary for every posted position with the geographic variation for different pay for the same job title in different regions of the US.

      Is this unique? It's a company that gets a lot of hate posts every time it's mentioned on slashd

  • Having that transparency in the US would prevent all kinds of crimes. For example the con man who wants you to make a bad investment could not pretend to be a successful investor. And if we combine that with going to electronic money the bad guys have no way of using their money as your spending needs to be no higher than your income. You just can't make those under the table bribes any more. The truth, the light of day, preventing lies and crimes all sounds like a pretty Christian way to live to
  • This lacks two properties to be useful, especially in the US.

    1. Rich people do not need a "salary", even an "income". They already have "wealth", and "unrealized gains" from their investments. i.e.: they might have a mansion, and own stock in a large company, and receive zero salary but still sustain themselves, their heirs, and maybe three more generations without any additional "salary" (i.e: income tax). In addition to "income", "wealth" needs to be public as well. (But that will attract all kinds of thi

Save the whales. Collect the whole set.

Working...