The well-dressed people headed up a homeowner’s sidewalk carrying a clipboard these days may not be Jehovah’s Witnesses. They could well be officials from Skat, the tax authorities, checking to see if the property’s owner is having any work done under the table.
Just shy of 250 homeowners have been visited by officials from Skat since a number of laws granting them new powers to chase tax cheats were passed in July 2012 and January of this year, according to homeowner advocacy group Bolius.
The visits have resulted in 30 cases of social security and unemployment fraud being filed. There are 25 ongoing cases undeclared work and about 50 more are pending.
In order for Skat to be allowed to enter a private property, any work going on must be visible from the road, and the authorities must have a “reasonable suspicion” that it could be illegal.
Building industry group Dansk Byggeri said the regulations have cut down on undeclared work.
“Skat informing people about the rules has had a preventative effect,” Torben Liborius, business policy head at Dansk Byggeri, said.
The tax authorities reported that they have been greeted cordially by homeowners they have visited and that there have been no complaints about the sweeps.
Allan Malskær, the head of the homeowners’ association Parcelhusejernes Landsforening said his group had not received any complaints that the authorities had overstepped their bounds.
“I would hate to hear that anything like that was happening,” he said.
The rules about working under the table, or earning ‘black money’, as it is sometimes called, can be difficult to understand. Simply stated, anytime work is done on private property, a sign stating the names of the companies involved must be posted.