Tax expert Göran Grosskopf, chairman of Ingka Holding, Ikea’s parent company, was instrumental in moving both the flatpack furnisher and packaging giant Tetra Pak out of Sweden for tax purposes. Ikea left for Denmark in 1973 before later switching to the Netherlands, while Tetra Pak set up headquarters in Switzerland in 1981.
But writing in a newsletter ahead of the Transfer of Ownership in Private Businesses conference, to be held in Stockholm at the end of March, Grosskopf claims the companies would have remained on home turf had today’s tax system been in place at the time.
By abolishing inheritance tax, gift tax and wealth tax, Sweden has become attractive to business owners who previously struggled to build up private savings outside of their companies, he claimed
“It’s very important for Sweden and is a fantastically positive development. Sweden is a tax paradise if you set aside income tax. Businesspeople think this is great,” said Grosskopf.
There are however two barriers preventing Sweden from reaching its full potential, according to the Switzerland-based businessman.
“Firstly, a lack of confidence that the reforms will remain in place and, secondly, the fact that Sweden still has both direct and indirect income tax on employment,” he said.
Grosskopf said that both Ikea and Rausing family enterprise Tetra Pak would “without a doubt” have stayed in Sweden if today’s tax conditions had been in place earlier, and if they could be assured that the tax system would remain stable in the long term.
“Taxation of companies and owners is no longer an argument against Sweden, it is an argument in favour of Sweden, said Grosskopf.