A Viking revolt over indirect taxes?

July 19, 2007 4:47 PM

In 787 AD, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Britain experienced its first ever Viking raid when a group of warriors sailed from Norway to Devon. On arriving in Devon, they were mistaken for merchants by a royal official, and so asked to pay a tax on their goods.

The Vikings killed the official.

Given a history like that with the taxman, it is perhaps less surprising that there is growing discontent in Norway over their tax system. Norway is well known for having very high levels of direct taxation to fund its large and generous welfare state and expansive social benefits. However, it is the high indirect taxes (known as avgifter) that may soon break the camel’s back.

To give you a flavour of the extent of these avgifter consider this: the duty placed on new cars can more than double the car’s price whilst the tax on property transactions costs homebuyers 2.5% of the purchase price. Thus the shock should not be that 75% of people think these taxes are too high, but that it took this long for the tide to turn.

This ought to be a warning to our politicians, for whom indirect taxes are becoming all the rage as they allow them to cut the headline rate of income tax whilst still spending wildly and also claiming to do "something" (whether it be over the environment or the nation’s health) at the same time.

People do not like stealth taxes. They do not like health-fascists taxing the foods that are deemed inappropriate. They do not like environmental do-gooders using the coercive instruments of the State to appease their consciences over the environment.

People do not like seeing more and more of their hard-earned income taken by bloated government, for it then to be wasted on lining the pockets of politicians and channelled off to fund the pet projects of bureaucrats. None of this discontent is unique to Britain it seems, even if the public in high-tax socialist havens like Norway have just taken a little longer to lose patience and voice their opposition. 

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