The new Aftenposten disclosures may spark various reactions for the KrF leader, including allegations of tax evasion, according to the law professor.
Aftenposten has revealed that KrF leader Kjell Ingolf Ropstad has taken active steps to avoid paying taxes on the prime minister’s residence. By claiming that he covered the expenses of his parents’ house, he received a tax benefit of NOK 175,000 in 2020. Ropstad admits that he stated that the expenses would pay less in taxes.
He says he agreed with his parents that he would cover their fixed expenses by the end of the year. But when the Prime Minister’s office, after talking to the Tax Administration, thought that it was irrelevant to his tax situation whether he had expenses at his place of residence or not, he did not pay.
– It was a poor assessment that I apologize for and I shouldn’t have. And I understand that there are many who are disappointed that I did that evaluation, says Ropstad to Aftenposten.
Ropstad after the new Aftenposten reveal: – I made a bad evaluation. I will regret that.
Three potential reactions
Jon Petter Rui, a law professor at the University of Bergen and the University of Tromsø, has financial crime as one of his fields of expertise. He speaks in a general way about the case regarding the Ropstad measure to avoid taxes on the prime minister’s residence.
He identifies three possible reactions from the Minister of Children and Families:
- Change equation
- Additional tax
- Prosecution for tax evasion
– First, a decision must be made about the equation of change. This means that you have to pay the correct tax, that is, the tax that you have not paid, Rui tells Aftenposten.
Then, the Tax Administration can impose an additional tax on Ropstad. It could be 15, 30 or 60 percent of the amount you have to pay, says the law professor.
– Depending on the size of the quantity, it is natural to evaluate this, he says.
– The third alternative is prosecution for tax evasion. But it is a discretionary evaluation if it is the Tax Administration or the prosecutor’s office that is handling the case, says Rui.
– Who decides this?
– Most of the time it is the Tax Administration, it says and adds:
– You look at the size of the amount, then you look at the degree of guilt. These are the two important elements in determining whether it will be a criminal case.
The law professor says that in these types of cases it takes a lot to get a court hearing because the law is not clear.
– In the legal system, it takes a lot to make an argument that the legislation is not clear or that one does not understand the law correctly, he says.
– The police must initiate an investigation.
Law professor Mads Andenæs believes Aftenposten’s latest revelation is serious for Ropstad. The case now requires a police investigation, he believes.
– Tax authorities will routinely conduct investigations of cases like this. But the police should start the investigation on their own. The existence of criminal offenses depends on the information provided to the Storting, the prime minister’s office and the tax authorities, it says.
Andenæs is Professor of Private Law at the University of Oslo.
– There are a number of criminal provisions that may be relevant here. Only the police can handle this further, and it is a natural task for them, says Andenæs.
On Friday afternoon, the Oslo police informed Aftenposten that they will not launch an investigation of Ropstad on their own initiative, but will wait for the Tax Administration’s assessments.
The law professor believes it is important that the case be thoroughly investigated. This is the only way trust in the authorities is not weakened, he says.
– In Norway, there is a tendency to downplay breaches of trust and the law. One of the reasons is often that we should not promote contempt for politicians. But I think anyone can agree that not writing or investigating these cases will be the biggest contribution to disdain for politicians.
Aftenposten has asked Ropstad how he would react to a possible police investigation.
– I do not want to comment on the legal. As you know, I am in contact with the Tax Administration to compensate me, says Kjell Ingolf Ropstad to Aftenposten on Friday morning.
– You can receive additional taxes of up to 60 percent
Emeritus Professor Ole Gjems-Onstad from the BI Department of Law and Management says that Ropstad, based on strict Tax Administration practice, can hardly avoid having to pay an additional tax increase, if it has deliberately provided incorrect information.
The additional tax increase is equivalent to 40 or 60 percent of the original tax amount, depending on how serious the tax authorities consider it.
This equates to 70,000 or 105,000 kronor extra in tax for Ropstad, in addition to the 175,000 kroner he did not pay.
Gjems-Onstad refers to the provisions in section 14-6 of the Tax Administration Law, when it appears that additional taxes and additional tax withholdings are imposed on the person “who intentionally or with gross negligence provides incorrect or incomplete information to the tax authorities, or does not provide taxable information, when he understands or should understand that it may give rise to tax benefits “.
The teacher says there is a clearly higher threshold for a relationship to be affected by a paragraph 378 of the Penal Code, on tax evasion.
– For such penalty provision to apply, more than the incorrect information that has been provided will be required. For those who do not know the case in detail, it does not seem fruitful to delve into that provision, says Gjems Onstad.
I can not comment
Tax authorities have a duty of confidentiality and cannot comment on individual cases. Section Director Lene Marie Ringså in the Tax Administration says, generally speaking, that additional taxes are only imposed “if the missing information has given you a tax advantage”.
The additional tax is basically 20 percent of the tax benefit, but “for serious and particularly serious cases, the Tax Administration has the option of providing an additional increased tax so that the total additional tax can be 40 to 60 percent”, Ringså says. .
The tax administration does not have the opportunity to comment if the agency is considering reporting a case to the police or if the case has already been reported.
The article was changed on September 17 at 1:19 p.m.