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Tax Evasion Encourages Firms to Set Up in Estonia

The number of Finns involved as either owners or directors in companies registered in Estonia continues to grow. Some 16,000 people with a Finnish social security number hold positions of responsibility in Estonian firms. Often such businesses evade taxation and statutory payments particularly in the construction sector with little risk of prosecution.

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Image: YLE / Antti Kettumäki

Setting up shop in Estonia has been easy for a year now simply via the internet. A trip to Tallinn is not necessary.

A white-collar crime surveillance campaign set up by officials is due to report soon. Of the 16,000 people with Finnish social security numbers registered in Estonia, about half are actually Estonians.

Many possess a dubious past, says the surveillance project Director, Janne Marttinen.

”Bankruptcies, payment defaults, bailiffs’ bills and even previous prosecutions for illegal business activities,” he lists.

Tax fraud is common in the construction sector as an Estonian firm does not have to pay Finnish taxes or statutory employee payments for projects lasting under six months.

White-collar crime researcher Markku Hirvonen says companies just change their name.

“Employees remain, in practice, the same people. Finnish officials have no real way to trace how long these workers are employed in Finland, “ he notes.

Sources: YLE

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