While the right warns against redundancies and billions less in investment, the left fears that the salmon rich can trick themselves out of paying the salmon tax.
On Tuesday, the government presented its proposal for the new salmon tax to the Storting, and on Wednesday, Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold met Vedum for question time in the Storting. Not surprisingly, land rent tax on aquaculture became the main topic.
Not interested in discussing alternative salmon tax
The Conservative Party and FRP have been clear in advance that they will not agree to a settlement on the salmon tax based on the government’s proposal. Høyre’s Helge Orten asked the finance minister if he was interested in investigating another type of salmon tax based on the Faroese model.
Vedum was not interested in discussing that. He pointed out that the Aquaculture Committee, which was set up by Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Finance Minister Siv Jensen, looked at different models, but concluded that the government’s proposal with a profit-based additional tax was the most sensible solution.
– There is a long Norwegian tradition that industries with large profits, and which harvest the community’s resources, must contribute more back to the community, said Vedum, and drew parallels back to the discussions about who should own the hydropower 100 years ago.
It is the same kind of debate we are in now. We have an industry that has huge profits. Then it is the government’s policy that they must share more. Both with the local communities, the counties and us as a community. That is what the Norwegian model is, said Vedum, adding:
– When the Conservative Party sits down and puts away the slogans from the national meeting, they will see that the model which is about profits is better than a large production tax.
[ Formuesskatten kan ryke og reise ]
SV attacked the tax from a different angle. Fiscal policy spokesperson Kari Elisabeth Kaski has previously said that she and SV want to raise the rate in the salmon tax to 48 per cent. The government originally proposed a rate of 40 per cent, but adjusted this down to 35 per cent in the proposal presented yesterday.
The government also proposes a minimum deduction of 70 million. The purpose of this is to ensure diversity among owners in the aquaculture industry. SV feared that this basic deduction would make it possible for the large owners in the farming industry to organize themselves away from paying ground rent tax.
– We hear from both companies and lawyers that there is work in progress, warned Kaski.
Vedum wasn’t nervous about that happening, but he didn’t rule out the possibility. He pointed out that the bill from the Ministry of Finance was solid and thoroughly worked out.
– It is a very solid framework. You can never guarantee that someone will find a loophole. But the goal is that you should not do that. The aim of a minimum deduction is precisely to have a diverse industry. In recent years, we have seen a very high concentration of owners, where there are a few owner communities with an increasingly high proportion of foreign owners, said Vedum.
[ Trekker Mummitrollet ut av Russland ]
A key question in the salmon tax debate is whether the government manages to get the country to reach a settlement in the Storting, or whether they have to settle the salmon tax issue only with budget partner SV.
Where the Conservative Party and FRP have long closed the door to a settlement in the Storting, the Liberals have been open to joining. Storting representative Ane Breivik from the Liberal Party wanted to know if Vedum could guarantee that he would not increase the rates of the salmon tax later in the budget settlement with SV.
Vedum pointed out that the salmon tax is a cash flow tax (see facts), which should not be jacked up and down constantly.
– It is a form of tax where you should not change the tax rate. It should be as predictable as possible and stand over several parliamentary terms, he said.
[ Vibeke Fürst Haugen tok over et NRK som aldri hadde hatt så mye tillit i befolkningen før. Så kom Sophie Elise. (+) ]
The government’s proposal
- The tax is designed as a cash flow tax with an immediate deduction for investments that are only used in the offshore phase.
- The effective tax rate is set at 35 per cent, which is lower than the consultation proposal of 40 per cent.
- For investments carried out before 1 January 2023, deductions are given through depreciation of remaining tax values.
- No deduction is given for the value of food fishing permits, but a template deduction is given in income for permits bought at auction in 2018/2020 and awarded at a fixed price in 2020. The deduction is set at 40 percent of the actual remuneration paid to the state spread over five years and is a change from the consultation proposal.
- An independent price council is established to determine the right income. The council is given the task of determining market values at the edge of the cage for salmon, trout and rainbow trout from 2024. Regulations on price advice will be sent for consultation. For 2023, the companies themselves set market values at the edge of the cage, which must be used as a basis in the tax return in line with general self-assessment. The government has moved away from the proposal for standard prices based on Nasdaq prices.
- Negative ground rent income is carried forward with an interest supplement, and the tax value of negative ground rent income on termination will be paid. The ministry will assess how a termination claim can be pledged.
- A minimum deduction of NOK 70 million will ensure that only companies with large profits pay ground rent tax. In the consultation memorandum, a minimum deduction of either NOK 54 million or NOK 67.5 million was outlined.
[ Rekord-Solberg vil ødelegge Aps 100-års fest: – Skal slåss for å holde på velgerne ]