Sweden’s neoliberal counter-revolution

12 May, 2014 at 22:43 | Posted in Economics | 3 Comments

Compared to 1998 Sweden’s tax system is far less progressive, with much less wealth going from rich to poor via the tax system.

People in Sweden on low and middle incomes now pay relatively high taxes, says professor Daniel Waldenström to Swedish public television SVT. This is mostly due to the local council tax, but also because of the element of employer fees that is taken as tax.

The change is partly because of the lower tax on capital earnings, and that more people on high incomes have managed to get their money paid in this way.

14s26-tiggare-33Plus tax changes made by the centre-right government since 2006 have meant people on high incomes have paid less tax on property and wealth. Professor Waldenström says there is a ”conscious political aim to make the tax system less progressive.”

In 1998 Sweden had one of the most progressive tax systems, number four in the EU. Ten years later, in 2008, it has the least progressive system of the 15 core EU countries.

The survey of EU tax systems was published in April by the tax cooperation agency Euromod.

Radio Sweden


  1. Yep. Of course neoliberalism is a problem in the entire Western world but the European welfare state is nonetheless still larger than the American one and the Scandinavian welfare state is nonetheless still larger than the average European one.
    This does not imply that we should be complacent, we are just living of “historical political capital” and without an emergence of a decent left that counteracts neoliberalism the welfare state will slowly we killed and 19th century anarcho-capitalism instead of post WWII moderates capitalism / social democracy will be the only game in town.

  2. Radio Sweden is up to there usual political mumbo jumbo. The paper clearly states that Sweden still has the most expensive tax system and the biggest transfers from the top quantile to the bottom. A self employed person had roughly 70% tax in 1998 and has still roughly 70% tax today in 2014. The so called “neoliberal” counter revolution is pretty weak in Sweden for most people. I suppose the counter revolution could be more significant for the 0.01%

    • You’re aware that much tax is not collected through the income tax? The tax on capital gains has been lowered, the tax on wealth has been abolished, the tax on inheritance has been abolished, the property tax has been heavily reduced and made regressive, taxbreakes regarding “luxury” consumption have been introduced (ie consumption that mainly concern well to do people), tax breakes for income tax on incomes from work have been introduced (meaning that people who pay taxes on for instance sick pay, unemployment pay and pensions have to pay higher income taxes than those who work, in effect taxing poor people harsher than before).

      Add to that reduced levels of sick pay, unemployment pay and so on as well as steeper differences in income for rich people vs ordinary and poor peopl and you can hardly claim that there hasn’t been a huge change in policy regarding unequality.

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