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TAXES

Five essential words you need when paying taxes in Denmark

The annual tax return, årsopgørelse is released on Monday so here is a reminder of Denmark’s important tax terminology.

The headquarters of the Danish Tax Agency in Copenhagen. A few key vocab items can help you better understand your tax return.
The headquarters of the Danish Tax Agency in Copenhagen. A few key vocab items can help you better understand your tax return. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

We hope our brief guide to essential Danish tax vocabulary will give you a little help.

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Self-employed and employed people alike can adjust their tax returns by logging in to the skat.dk website and entering the deductions on their preliminary tax return or annual return.

These are calculated and displayed on the website of the national tax authority, SKAT. As such, a good grasp of the necessary technical terms will help you to fill out your paperwork correctly, including things like any deductions to which you might be entitled.

Forskudsopgørelse, årsopgørelse

Forskudsopgørelse (preliminary tax return) and årsopgørelse (annual return, calculated and displayed on the SKAT website at the beginning of March) are possibly the most important Danish tax terms.

Accessing the annual tax return is a yearly event for taxpayers. Within a set deadline which falls at the beginning of May, taxpayers can edit their tax information, such as by changing income or tax exemption information.

Around three out of four taxpayers in Denmark get refunds after the yearly annual return. The amount refunded varies from person to person, but 2019 saw 3.4 million people paid an average refund of 4,700 kroner, according to official data. Many others have to pay money back to the tax authority, however.

Prior to the publication of the annual return, you can check how much tax you’ve paid or are due to pay during the course of the year and edit your income and deductions details on the preliminary version of the return, the forskudsopgørelse. 

Fradrag

A fradrag or deduction can reduce your tax bill just like in many other national tax systems. These can be entered into your tax returns, as described above.

Various types of deduction are available. These include kørselsfradrag (travel deduction) and håndværkerfradrag and servicefradrag (literally, builder’s deduction and service deduction), given for making improvements to homes or holiday homes.

Various other costs relating to work can be deducted from income tax, including kost og logi (food and accommodation); dobbelt husførelse for housing costs if living away from home temporarily due to work; and A-kasse og fagforening (unemployment insurance and trade union membership).

READ ALSO: Four ways to (legally) lower your tax bill in Denmark

AMbidrag

AM-bidrag or arbejdsmarkedsbidrag, literally ‘labour market contribution’ is a taxation amounting to 8 percent of your wages. Grammar lovers will note use of the antonym word to fradrag.

The tax is paid directly to SKAT by your employer (for those who are not self-employed or freelance), and will be displayed on your tax returns.

If you are not self-employed or freelance, the wage slip you are issued by your employer will tell you the amount to which this 8 percent taxation is applied: some parts of your gross income are not applicable to the AM-bidrag.

Feriepenge 

Feriepenge (holiday money) is a monthly contribution paid into a special fund, depending on how much you earn.

You can claim back the money once per year, provided you actually take holiday from work.

You will be notified when the money can be paid out around May, and directed to the borger.dk website, from where you claim it back from national administrator Udbetaling Danmark.

Brutto, netto 

Your income before tax is brutto (gross), i.e. the amount prior to calculation and payment of tax and application of deductions. Netto is not usually a supermarket when talking about tax, but is the amount you receive after paying all levies.

EXPLAINED: How to understand your Danish payslip

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PROPERTY

EXPLAINED: Denmark’s new property tax rules from 2024

New property tax rules (boligskatteregler) take effect in Denmark in 2024. How will they affect homeowners and first-time buyers?

EXPLAINED: Denmark’s new property tax rules from 2024

The new tax rules, which will impact property value tax rates (ejendomsværdiskattesatser) and land value tax (grundskyld), were originally ratified by the previous government in a 2017 bill. In general, they mean the rates for both of the above property taxes will fall in most municipalities, according to the Danish tax ministry.

A public real estate appraisal (ejendomsvurdering) forms the basis for taxation of your property. According to the tax ministry, many homeowners will find that new appraisals issued from September 2021 are higher than preceding valuations from 2011 and 2012. That is partly due to increasing house prices in recent years.

In order to avoid much higher property taxes as a result of higher valuations in the public real estate appraisals, the 2017 political agreement secured a reduction of the two forms of property tax, effective from 2024.

Homeowners who appear to be facing higher property taxes due to the new appraisals – even though tax rates will be reduced – can be eligible for a tax subsidy. This can occur in cases where a property has seen a large increase in its valuation.

In short, the new tax rules will not result in taxes for existing homeowners in 2024 that are higher than they would have been if the current rules (still in effect in 2022 and 2023) were to remain in place.

However, the tax subsidy mentioned above does not apply to new homeowners from January 1st 2024. This is because first-time buyers will be expected to “plan their finances in accordance with the new tax rules,” the ministry states.

This could have a knock-on effect on the housing market, according to financial media Finans, which wrote in November 2021 that people buying apartments would be likely to demand reduced prices as 2024 approaches, to offset the higher taxes they are likely to pay.

READ ALSO: Danish apartment sales cool to eight-year low

An analysis by Finans and Nykredit showed that apartment prices in major cities, particularly in and around Copenhagen as well as in Aarhus and Odense, will typically have to fall by around 5-10 percent for total costs for now buyers – mortgage plus tax – to be unchanged compared to the outgoing rules.

The new rules and subsequent increased taxes will hit first-time (in 2024) buyers of apartments hardest, according to Finans. That is because many buyers will not be able to afford the same mortgage they previously could, due to the higher property taxes.

One reason apartments are more likely to get tax increases under the new rules is that the valuation appraisal system left them subject to lower property tax relative to houses.

“Apartments have been too lightly taxed for many years because the land under them is massively undervalued compared to appraisals of detached house land,” Mira Lie Nielsen, housing economist at Nykredit, one of Denmark’s major banks and the country’s largest mortgage lender, told Finans last November.

People buying apartments before 2024 could also push prices down knowing they risk making a loss if they sell shortly after the tax reform takes effect.

From 2024 onwards, the two property taxes – ejendomsværdiskattesatser and grundskyld – will be pegged to appraisals of the property and land value such that if these fall in valuation, so will the property tax.

If the valuation of the property, and thereby the property tax, increases after 2024, homeowners can fix the rate of (indefryse) their taxes by postponing payment of a part of the property tax. The frozen tax payment becomes due (and is calculated) when the property is sold. Alternatively, the increased taxes can be paid in instalments.

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