Guide to Swedish Tax law research

Peter Melz1
Guide to Swedish Tax Law Research
This guide summarizes the sources of Swedish Tax Law. It will offer guidance to the relevant
Swedish tax laws and literature. Unfortunately most of the laws and other relevant material
are in Swedish.
A yearly overview of Taxes in Sweden is published by The Swedish Tax Agency
(Skatteverket) (could be downloaded from The focus is mainly on
statistical presentation of taxation.
Comments on amendments etc. could be sent to
I. Constitutional law
Sweden is a constitutional monarchy. Tax Law as other legislation are enacted by the
Parliament (Riksdagen). It is not possible for the Parliament to delegate legislative power to
the Government or Government authorities. Delegated rules may only prescribe how to
comply with the statutory rules and no new rules may be implemented through them.
The basic provisions defining the powers and the tasks of the Swedish Government and the
rights enjoyed by the Swedish citizens are found in the Constitution. The Swedish
Constitution is constituted by four fundamental laws:
1) the Instrument of Government 1974,
2) the Act of Succession 1810,
3) the Freedom of the Press Act 1949,
4) the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression, 1991, AND
5) the Riksdag Act.
The constitutional ground for taxation can be found in the Instrument of Government. It
embodies the basic political principles by which the state is governed and it defines and
delimits the tasks of the Swedish Government. The principle that there can be no tax except in
accordance with law, Nullum tributum sine lege, is expressed in the Instrument of Government
Chapter 8 Art 3.
Further tax provisions in the constitution is found in Chapter 2 of the Instrument of
Government, which concerns fundamental rights and freedoms. There retroactive tax
legislation is prohibited, Chapter 2 Art 10 par. 2.
II. Laws and regulations
Tax legislation is normally prepared by work in Government Committees. Committee Reports
(Statens Offentliga Utredningar, SOU) are referred for consideration by various authorities
and organizations. The government then presents a Government bill (proposition) to the
Parliament (Riksdagen). For important proposals, the bill is preceded by a draft which is
examined by three Supreme Court judges in the Council of Legislation (lagrådet).
Amendments in the Parliament are rare. The bill is scrutinized in Parliament by a Standing
Committee for Taxation (skatteutskottet).
Professor of Tax Law, Stockholm University, with assistance of Anna Ohman, Research assistant.
Committee reports are published in the Swedish Government Official Reports series (Statens
offentliga utredningar, SOU) and Ministry publications series (Departementsserien, Ds).
These reports and Government bills are to be found on the web-page of the Ministry of
Opinions expressed by the Law Council (lagrådet) are published at their webpage
Statutes and amendments to statutes are published in the Swedish Code of Statutes (Svensk
Författningssamling, SFS). Current cumulative versions of statutory tax laws are published by
the Swedish Tax Agency and private publishers. The Swedish Parliament has a webpage with
bills, committee reports and statutes
The Swedish tax system consists of almost all known types of taxes. Basicly every tax form is
regulated in a separate acts. Administrative and procedural rules are regulated in further
separate Acts. Below the most important laws are briefly described. A more comprehensive
list is attached at the end of the Research Guide.
Inkomstskattelag (1999:1229) (Income Tax Act)
The Swedish Income Tax Act is a comprehensive law containing almost all substantial rules
necessary to calculate income tax for individuals and legal persons, whether they are
unlimited or limited liable to income tax in Sweden.
Income is calculated for individuals in three different sources: employment, business and
capital. For the combined income of the sources of employment and business (earned income)
municipal and national income tax could be levied with a progressive rate structure. Further
social security contributions are paid for these incomes either by employers or by selfemployed persons. This is regulated in lagen om sociavgifter (see below). On income of
capital only a flat rate national income tax is levied.
Legal persons only calculate income of business on which a flat rate national income tax is
The Income Tax Act is divided into chapters following the mentioned structure. Apart from
chapters dedicated to different sources of income, further chapters regulate common
Some supplementary laws exist for international income taxation among others
Kupongskattelagen (1970:624) (Dividend withholding tax Act) and Avräkning av utländsk
skatt (1986:468) (Foreign tax credit Act).
Lag (2000:980) om socialavgifter (Act on Social Security Contributions)
Social security contributions function to a considerable extent as taxes. The Act contains all
substantial rules necessary to calculate social security contributions.
Lag om statlig fastighetsskatt (1984:1052) (Act on National Real Estate Tax)
A national real estate/property tax is levied on immovable property such as private houses,
farms, residential buildings and rented residential and business premises. The real-estate tax is
to be calculated on the basis of the assessed taxable value. The assessed real estate value is
approximately 75 percent of the market value of the property. The taxable value is used in the
calculation of real estate tax as well as for inheritance-, gift- and wealth taxes.
Mervärdesskattelag (1994:200) (Value Added Tax Act)
The Swedish VAT Act is modelled after the European Union VAT directives. The structure of
the tax is therefore well known for those with knowledge of other European VAT Laws.
However, the structure of the legislation does not fully resemble the structure of the directive.
VAT is assessed separately from income taxes but is collected in the same procedure.
Lag om arvsskatt och gåvoskatt (1941:416) (Act on Gift and Inheritance Tax)
The object for potential taxation is comprehensive in theory but the tax base is eroded by
many exemptions or by favourable valuation rules. The exemptions have been granted
primarily to capital invested in business directly or through close corporations etc. Gift tax is
considered to be supplementary to the inheritance tax.
Lag om förmögenhetsskatt (1997:323) (Act on Net Wealth Tax)
The tax is considered to be a supplementary tax on capital income. The assets included in the
tax base is roughly the same as for inheritance and gift tax.
Taxeringslag (1990:324) (Tax Assessment Act)
This law contains procedural rules for assessment of the major taxes. The court procedure
upon appeal is controlled by a special procedural law for administrative courts (lag om
allmänna förvaltningsdomstolar).
Lag om självdeklaration och kontrolluppgifter (2001:1227) (Act on Self assessment and
statements of income)
This law contain rules for self assessment of tax payers (requirements of sending in returns)
and statements of income paid out by employers, banks, insurance companies etc.
Skattebetalningslag (1997:483) (Tax Payment Act)
This Act contain rules for prepayments and withholding of taxes.
III. Treaties
Treaties are made law by act of Parliament. The Government bills contain background and
explanations to the treaty. Treaties could be found on the web-pages of The Swedish Tax
Agency (
IV. Administrative material
The Swedish Tax Agency ( issues general recommendations. As the
agency in nationwide it is expected that decisions on local level will be made in accordance
with the recommendation. Recommendations are not binding for courts upon appeal. In some
special cases the Agency has the right to issue binding regulations. The Agency is not issuing
individual rulings as advance rulings are issued by an independent board.
V. Case law
Decision by the Tax Agency could appealed to one of 23 county administrative courts
(länsrätter) and then again to on of four administrative courts of appeal (kammarrätter). If
the case is of importance to the interpretation of the law, the Supreme Administrative Court
(Regeringsrätten) may grant leave to appeal and try the case. Cases decided by the Supreme
Administrative Court are deemed binding for lower courts. There is no statutory rule to this
effect, but precedents are with rare exceptions followed. The Supreme Administrative Court
seldom changes a precedent, and if it does, the change must be made in a plenary session.
A special independent board gives Advance rulings for important transactions. Rulings can
be appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court without the need for leave to be granted.
Decisions by the Supreme Administrative Court is published by a number of commercial
web-services, at the web-page of the Swedish Tax Agency (rättsfallsprotokoll) and in a yearly
volume The Annual Reporter of the Supreme Administrative Court (Regeringsrättens årsbok).
The court is still not publishing decisions on a web-page.
VI. Literature and periodicals
The best way to start studying Swedish tax questions is to start with a general textbook. Major
general textbooks are:
Lodin, Lindencrona, Melz and Silfverberg: Inkomstskatt, Studentlitteratur. Published annualy
or biannualy.
Rabe and Bojs, Det svenska skattesystemet, Norstedts Juridik. Published annualy or
Another form of comprehensive information are found in comprehensive commentaries to
different laws. The commentaries are structured as commentaries to each individual article in
the laws. The commentaries are published in different forms (paperback, lose-leaf and/or
electronical form). Examples of laws commented this way are (publisher is Norstedts Juridik):
Inkomstskattelagen, Andersson, Saldén-Enérus and Tivéus
Mervärdeskattelagen, Fink, Rabe and Svenneteg.
Skatteförfarandet, Almgren and Leidhammar.
Skatt på arv och skatt på gåva, Bratt, Fogelklou, Nordell, Silfverberg and Waller
Socialavgifter, Carlsson, Silfverberg and Svenström.
A large number academic theses and monographs about tax questions are published. Two
major Tax Journals (Skattenytt and Svensk Skattetidning) publish 10 issues each per year.
Accounting standards are published by the Financial Accounting Standards Council
(Redovisningsrådet) in Redovisningsrådets rekommendationer,
and by Bokföringsnämnden, BFN (The Swedish Accounting Standards Board),
List of Swedish Tax Acts
All cites are to the Swedish Statute Book (Svensk Författningssamling (SFS)). The Swedish tax
laws are reprinted in several sources, including Skatte- och taxeringförfattningarna,
Skatteverket, annual edition [in Swedish]. The principal laws currently in effect are set forth
below, arranged according to subject matter.
Inkomstskattelag (1999:1229)- Income tax act
Kupongskattelag (1970:624) - Dividend Withholding tax act (coupon tax)
Lag (1986:468) om avräkning av utländsk skatt - Foreign tax credit act
Lag (1990:314) om ömsesidig handräckning i skatteärenden - Act on mutual assistance in tax
Lag (1991:586) om särskild inkomstskatt för utomlands bosatta - Act on special income tax
for foreign residents
Lag (1991:591) om särskild inkomstskatt för utomlands bosatta artister m.fl. - Act on special
income tax for non-resident artists and athletes
Lag om socialavgifter (200:980) – Act on social security contributions
Lag om löneskatt på förvärvsinkomster (1990:659) – Act on wage tax on earned income
Lag om särskild premieskatt för grupplivförsäkring (1990:1427) – Act on tax on life insurance
Lag om avkastningsskatt på pensionsmedel (1990:661) – Act on tax on yield on pension
Lag (1994:1920) om allmän löneavgift - Act on general salary fees
Lag (1994:1744) om allmänna egenavgifter - Act on general payroll tax
Lag (1991:687) om särskild löneskatt på pensionskostnader - Act on special wage tax on
pension costs
Lag (1993:931) om individuellt pensionssparande - Act on individual pension plans
Lag (1967:531) om tryggande av pensionsutfästelse m.m. - Act on safeguarding pension
commitments etc.
Mervärdesskattelag (1994:200) - Value added tax act
Mervärdesskatteförordning (1994:223) - Value added tax decree
Lag (2000:142) om avtal med Danmark om mervärdeskatt för den fasta vägförbindelsen över
Öresund. – Act on treaty with Denmark on VAT for the bridge over the Sound
Lag (1995:1518) om mervärdeskattekonton för kommuner och landsting. – Act on a VAT
compensation system for local governments
Lag (1984:404) om stämpelskatt vid inskrivningsmyndigheter - Act on stamp duty to land
registration administration
Lag (1994:1776) om skatt på energi - Energy tax act
Lag (1994:1564) om alkoholskatt - Alcohol tax act
Lag (1972:266) om skatt på annonser och reklam - Advertisement and advertising tax act
Lag (1991:1482) om lotteriskatt - Lottery tax act
Lag (1991:1483) om skatt på vinstsparande m.m. - Act on tax on profit savings
Lag (1972:280) om skatt på spel - Act on tax on gambling
Lag (1999:673) om skatt på avfall – Act on tax on waste products
Lag (1984:1052) om statlig fastighetsskatt - Act on national real estate tax
Lag (2001:906) om skattereduktion för fastighetsskatt – Act on reduction of real estate tax
Lag (2003:1204) om skattereduktion för vissa miljöförbättrande åtgärder i småhus – Act on
reduction of tax for environmental improvments
Fastighetstaxeringslag (1979:1152) – Act on assessment of value for real estate
Lag (1997:323) om förmögenhetsskatt - National Wealth tax act
Lag (1997:324) om begränsning av skatt i vissa fall - Act on limitation of tax in certain cases
Lag (1941:416) om arvsskatt och gåvoskatt - Inheritance and gift tax act
Taxeringslag (1990:324) – Tax Assessment act
Lag (2001:1227) om självdeklarationer och kontrolluppgifter – Act on income tax returns and
statements of earnings and tax deductions
Lag (1998:189) om förhandsbesked i skattefrågor – Act on advance rulings in tax matters
Lag (1989:479) om ersättning för kostnader i ärenden och mål om skatt m.m. - Act on
compensation for costs in tax cases
Lag (1995:575) mot skatteflykt - Tax avoidance act
Skattebetalningslag (1997:843)- Tax payment act
Lag (1997:484) om dröjsmålsavgift - Act on fee for delay
Lag (1994:466) om särskilda tvångsåtgärder i beskattningsförfarandet - Act on certain
measures in tax assessment procedure
Lag (1978:880) om betalningssäkring för skatter, tullar och avgifter - Act on distraint order
for securing payment for taxes, customs and fees
Lag (1982:188) om preskription av skattefordringar m.m. - Act on statute of limitations of tax
Lag (1971:289) om allmänna förvaltningsdomstolar - Act on general administrative courts