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Friday's papers: Tax fraud probes, metro test cancellation, singer on drugs

Dailies this Friday take looks at the tax man looking through its fingers at company tax reductions and dividends, the most recent in a string of inauspicious Helsinki metro delays and tango singer Jari Sillanpää caught with methamphetamines in his system.

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The tax man's guidelines are hard for some in-house administrators to accept. Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

Companies are seemingly allowed to distribute shadowy dividends and apply for high deductions from the tax man, Helsingin Sanomat reports.

The paper writes that tax deductions of less than 12,000 euros per company tend not to be investigated at all by the Tax Authority, as per a secret guideline instated in 2014.

Those specific rules became obsolete in 2016, but at least one tax administrator tells HS that distinguishing between legitimate tax breaks and fraudulent ones has become challenging. Even suspicious dividends distribution cases have not been investigated due to the minimum investigation limit of 6,000 euros.

"Some income has gone completely untaxed, and some tax-paying entities have received unjustified breaks," the anonymous administrator says in HS.

Tax Authority director general Pekka Ruuhonen says he does not wish to comment on the individual claims made by the unnamed tax worker.

"We are aware that some of our officials have found the guidelines difficult to accept," Ruuhonen says. "The administration's focal points, possible investigation sum limits and subjects of oversight are all clearly appraised before being applied."

News magazine Suomen Kuvalehti was first to report on similar discrepancies in inheritance and gift taxation last week; their scoop was that the Tax Authority prohibited its employees from investigating unspecified donations of less than 30,000 euros.

Metro test foiled by electrical snag

Meanwhile, Tampere region paper Aamulehti has a small piece on recent developments – or lack thereof – in the new metro line extension in the capital. The Helsinki metro's new extended rail network was tested on Thursday, but the trial had to be interrupted due to an apparently unforeseen snafu in the wiring.

The problem arose when the electricity supply overloaded the network during the systems check. Thursday was the first day that the nearly completed metro line was properly tested with metro cars, and it did not fare well, in keeping with the project's many vagaries.

"We decided to stop the test so that we would be able to serve our passengers as well as possible that same afternoon," says HKL chief Ville Lehmuskoski in AL.

The rest of the tests on the metro to the west will be conducted over the next three weeks.

Tango singer apologises for using meth

Entertainment news in this Friday's Ilta-Sanomat features a contrite Jari Sillanpää, one of Finland's most beloved tango stars and public performers, who was caught red-handed with traces of the illegal drug methamphetamine in his system. Police stopped the singer in his car on Tuesday night.

"The choppy waves of life roll over each of us and I hope they make better people of us. I am very sorry to have caused worry," Sillanpää's release in quoted in IS. "I was stopped for a traffic infraction – I crossed a yellow line when passing a bus as it was waiting at its stop. What the tabloids say about me driving under the influence is true, even though the amount in question was very small."

Methamphetamine is a powerful nervous system stimulant that medical director Kaarlo Simojoki from the A-Clinic Foundation says is "really dangerous".

"Meth is very common in the country right now. Prolonged use can cause permanent damage," he says in IS.

The doctor says that traces of the substance can be found in the human body for days after consumption, when the effects of the drug have long worn off.

"Even if a person's cognition or driving ability is not impaired, if traces of illegal substances are found that is an automatic traffic violation," Simojoki says.

Sillanpää says he will continue to honour his work schedule as usual, and is currently prepping for a singing tour.

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