Finland won’t abolish inheritance and gift tax just yet, after a citizens initiative to eliminate the levies was rejected on government party votes in parliaments Finance committee.
MPs in the committee split 12-9 against considering the measure, with opposition legislators criticising the decision--which was carried by votes from Blue Reform, the National Coalition and the Centre Party.
“Tactically, the government parties didn’t want a situation where parliament could take a critical view of inheritance tax and they couldn’t promise to reduce or eliminate it from their election campaign stalls,” said committee member and SDP MP Timo Harakka, who sits on the finance committee.
In Finland any citizen can propose legislation on a topic of their choosing. If they persuade 50,000 people to sign their petition via the citizens initiative website, the measure goes to parliament for consideration.
Usually that involves a committee stage when the merits of the proposal are looked at in detail--and this is the stage at which the inheritance tax initiative fell.
Harakka said it was unpalatable that the ‘citizens initiative idea had been politicised’.
He noted that the only previous time a committee had refused to consider a citizens initiative was when veteran eurosceptic Paavo Väyrynen had gathered the signatures to demand Finland leave the European single currency.
“That did not fall under parliament’s jurisdiction,” said Harakka.
Leftist MP Kari Uotila said he worried about the precedent being set.
“This opens the way to pretty outrageous machinations: government parties deciding which citizens initiatives get proper consideration in parliament and which don’t,” said Uotila.
The vote was reported first by Helsingin Sanomat.