I filed my Swedish taxes the other day. It took me just long enough to type 18 numbers into my cell phone and hit send. The deadline was May 3rd, and my tax declaration forms have been on the floor of my apartment for several weeks.
Now normally, tax papers shouldn’t be strewn across the floor. But I was going paperless this year. You know, except for the papers on my floor. The Swedish tax system, despite the ridiculous amounts of money they take from me every year, is pretty damn good at taking that money. All that practice I suppose.
All of that practice has led to some serious efficiency. Like being able to declare by phone. Or online. Or by SMS (or text, depending on which country you might find yourself in). Last year, I declared online. This year though, I was going even more high tech. I was using my cell phone. Which, considering the quality of my cell phone, might be considered incredibly low tech, but I digress.
The government sent me a nice little form with plenty of information already filled in, like my income for example. They also sent a booklet to read through in case I needed to make any changes due to big life changing events. Like selling a house. I didn’t have any of those big life changing events, and so I went through my forms, saw that no changes had to be made, and I was good to go.
I consulted the handy booklet to go through my choices. Because I had no changes to make, filing by cell phone was a legitimate option. And come on, probably the best option. All I had to do was plug in my personnummer and a little code that they provided me and send it off to Skatteverket. Then I sat back and waited for my confirmation text.
In a country of nine million, Skatteverket was preparing me for disappointment. The booklet warned me that if lots of people were filing taxes at the same time, I may have to wait up to ten minutes for my confirmation text. The horror. Apparently though, 10:00 in the evening on a weekday is not a popular time to be consulting tax documents and so just a few seconds after having hit send, I received my confirmation: Din deklaration har nu kommit in till Skatteverket.
It doesn’t get much easier than that. Which might be the point. That little anti-tax troll that sits on my shoulder says that the Swedish government makes declaring easy because then no one thinks too hard about just how much money disappears to the Swedish tax system. The troll on my other shoulder says that in a country where the police send text messages, this is just a damn good way to make life a little bit better.
Welcome to Sweden. And filing taxes.
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