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Court orders high-earners' tax data made public again

Media outlets, including Yle, had complained about the decision to conceal names of people earning over €100,000 per year.

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The Finnish Tax Administration must reveal the names of people who requested that their income and tax information be removed from a list provided to the media, Helsinki Administrative Court ruled. Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

Helsinki Administrative Court has ruled that the Finnish Tax Administration must reveal the identities of over 4,000 high-earners who requested that their income and tax information be omitted from a list provided to the media.

The tax administration had for years published a list of Finnish citizens earning more than 100,000 euros per year, until 2019 when 231 people requested that their data be removed from the list, citing the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The tax administration agreed to all requests that year, and last year the office received over 4,600 requests for data to be concealed.

This led to several media outlets joining forces and asking the tax administration for information on who had requested their names be removed.

The tax administration objected to these requests and justified its decision on the grounds that the information had to be kept confidential, but many media outlets, including Yle, appealed this decision to the administrative court.

The court found that, according to administrative law, the tax office does not have to provide the media with a complete list of the income and tax information of high-earners. However, it ruled that the names of those who exercised the right to conceal their data must be disclosed to the media.

The court further ruled that if requested by name, the tax office must reveal an individual's taxable income.

If the current ruling stands, it will mean in practice that the list given to the media by the tax administration will also include those who have requested that their name be removed from the list, according to Inspector General of the Tax Administration Noora Kontro.

The tax administration has not yet decided whether it intends to appeal the decision to the Supreme Administrative Court.

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