Even beyond the grave, Danes pay taxes

Inheritance taxes lined state coffers with over four billion kroner last year

Even death is not enough to escape the reach of tax authority Skat.

A considerable financial windfall is brought in every year by Skat taking a healthy cut of inheritances left behind by the deceased.

According to new figures from the Ministry of Economic and Internal Affairs, Skat reaped 4.3 billion kroner from inheritance taxes in 2013 – 400 million kroner more than the year before. This year, the amount is expected to increase to 5.8 billion kroner.

Do as our neighbours do
Sweden did away with its inheritance taxes ten years ago, and Norway followed suit at the end of 2013. A number of political parties are now calling on Denmark to do the same.

“First of all the tax is unfair, and there are plenty of other areas where we can find this money,” Mike Legarth, the Konservative spokesperson on financial issues, told DR Nyheder. “The inheritance has already been taxed once and [Skat] takes from people who have been responsible and saved up money.”

READ MORE: Denmark billed as perfect tax haven

Enhedslisten: "tax should double"
As the rules stand today, Danes must pay an inheritance tax – or a so-called estate tax – from the estate of deceased family members. Spouses do not need to pay anything, but children and co-habiting partners must fork over 15 percent of their inheritances to the state coffers.

But according to some parties, 15 percent is not enough. The left-wing party Enhedslisten argues that the inheritance tax should be doubled to 30 percent.

“The rich should pay more taxes and that could occur via inheritance taxes,” Frank Aaen, Enhedslisten’s tax and finance spokesperson, told DR Nyheder. “It’s cheap compared to what people who work have to pay in taxes. It typically concerns large value increases in real estate that have not been taxed.”

READ MORE: As Taxgate finally wraps up, total tab hits 19 million

No changes on the way
But neither proponents of scrapping or increasing the inheritance tax will likely get their way, according to the tax minister, Jonas Dahl (SF), who argues that the inheritance tax is adequate in its current form.

“I think that it is fair that the people with large fortunes who pass it on to their children also give a slice to the tax treasury,” Dahl told DR Nyheder. “It contributes to our welfare society and less inheritance tax would only weaken that society and have to be made up through income taxes.”




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