This year will be the last time that taxpayers in Finland will receive tax refunds shortly before the Christmas holidays. Starting next year, tax officials will begin doling out refunds in August rather than at the end of the year.
The early payments are the result of digitalisation of tax systems as well as legal reforms that will in principle allow authorities to pay refunds during the course of the year.
Meanwhile, starting next year, the tax administration will receive workers’ income and tax data directly from employers in a centralised database in real time. Benefits and pensions data meanwhile, will be collected in another database from 2020.
There has been some speculation that the August tax refund payout will affect Christmas sales, as taxpayers won’t get the extra funds just in time for seasonal shopping.
This year for example on 11 December, some 3.6 million taxpayers will have an additional 2.9 billion euros in hand - just two weeks before the holiday.
However Matti Puranen, group director of S-Group’s Rovaniemi Prisma hypermarkets, told Yle that he is not put off by the change to earlier tax refunds.
“Christmas is still Christmas. If it looks that people may not have as much disposable income, I think they will focus their spending on Christmas and the home. Maybe [people] will defer that trip overseas or put off a major investment until later,” Puranen noted.