Morning Briefing – Wednesday, October 9

The Copenhagen Post’s daily round-up of the front pages and other major Danish news stories

Taxgate letter I: the proof
The public may have to wait to get a full insight into what the anonymous letter that temporarily halted the investigation into wrongdoing surrounding the 2010 tax audit of prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, then leader of the opposition, and her husband. The author, according to those who have seen the letter, said that instead of going public with the letter, he (or she) intends to sell it and a number of other revealing details to a publisher. The revelations allegedly prove that Venstre, which held the prime minister’s office at the time, was responsible for orchestrating the audit. Legal experts point out, however, that such meddling, in and of itself, would not be liable to criminal prosecution. The author of the letter, who in the letter claims to be employed at a Jutland lawfirm, indicated that selling the information was a way to provide financial security for himself (or herself) out of concern that the leak would result in dismissal. – Jyllands-Posten

SEE RELATED: Taxgate tribunal narrows down suspect list to three

Taxgate letter II: the motivation
The anonymous author of the two-page list of allegations submitted to the Taxgate Commission in September claims to have been motivated by disappointment that the whole truth had not come out during the tribunal’s hearings, which began in August 2012. The letter, published in its full length in Berlingske today, confirms the author’s intention to sell the information (see above) if the commission does not investigate his (or her) claims. The letter weaves a web of conspirators that includes members of the press, leading Venstre lawmakers and Tax Ministry officials. The author did not come forward by yesterday’s deadline, and the commission said it will now disregard the letter. There is still considerable doubt about whether the letter is genuine or is itself a part of a conspiracy intended to throw the tribunal into chaos as it prepared to issue its final judgement. – Berlingske  

ARCHIVE: See our complete list of articles about the Taxgate farce

Property assessments I: rule change in works
The Tax Ministry will scrap the current system used for assessing property value and instead ask an independent commission to come up with a more accurate model. The move comes after revelations that up to 75 percent of property evaluations were incorrect. The new system is due to be ready for use when Skat, the tax agency, makes its 2015 property assessments. The commission is due to be unveiled today, but according to information obtained by Politiken, representatives from Skat will be left off the panel due to a lack of confidence by the government that officials there would be able to come up with a fool-proof system for estimating property value. – Politiken

SEE RELATED: Inaccurate property evaluations may have cost homeowners millions

Property assessments II: old system still in place for now, errors and all
Despite a Tax Ministry decision to revamp the property assessment system (see above), people whose property had been incorrectly assessed can look forward to at least two more years of paying the wrong tax amount. Until the new model is ready, property owners will continue to pay taxes according to their 2011 assessment. The new bi-annual assessments were due out later this year, but have now been dropped. Property owners whose 2011 assessment was too high will qualify for a refund. According to the Tax Ministry, the refund will occur automatically and homeowners will not be permitted to appeal their tax assessments this year or next. – DR Nyheder

SEE RELATED: Tax minister promises refund for homeowners

The four economists of the recovery
The latest report from four-economist panel known as the Wise Men paints a picture of an economy that is stronger than most people give it credit for. According the panel, whose main role is to advise the government, the economy’s underlying good health is due to stronger-than-expected productivity increases since 2009. Their report points out that while the number of goods the economy is turning out has not gone up, the value at which they can be sold abroad has increased faster than the value at which foreign goods can be sold on the Danish market. The report also finds that Danes’ overall number of hours worked has declined eight percent since 2009. Output, meanwhile remained constant, indicating that employees are more productive when they are at work. Among the report’s other conclusions were that a flexible Danish economy, which makes it easy to start new businesses, promotes growth by making it less attractive to continue operating businesses in slumping industries. – Berlingske Business

SEE RELATED: Productivity commission attacks bureaucracy

Editorial Excerpt | Rebuild trust

The publication of the main points of the anonymous letter send to the Taxgate Commission leaves us with more questions than answers. If the allegations are to be believed, then we are looking at an abuse of power unparalleled in modern Danish history. If, as many expect, the letter is a fake, then this is an incredibly mean-spirited smear campaign that in and of itself could be sufficient to undermine confidence in our lawmakers. – Politiken 

SEE RELATED: Denmark second in transparency study

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