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What changes in 2018? Taxes, beer, daycare charges—and more

At the turn of the year a raft of changes to laws, rules and regulations will come into force. Here's what you need to know.

Kuvakollaasi jossa olutta, tupakka, rajaa ja kala.
All change for fishing, beer, tobacco and taxation in 2018. Image: AOP / Yle

The much-trailed alcohol law comes into force on 1 January, bringing drinks with an alcohol content as high as 5.5 percent to food stores and kiosks. The limit before then is 4.7 percent. Crucially, the new law also removes a requirement that the drinks be fermented, allowing manufacturers to sell canned, mixed drinks, such as gin and tonic in a can.

Restaurants and bars can also freely advertise happy hour discounts.

Booze and cigarettes get more expensive

Alcohol taxation changes, with an average increase of around five percent on the retail price. Beer will cost some 20 centres a litre more than in 2017, and the price of spirits and wine will also increase. Tobacco prices will rise on 1 January and then again in the summer, to bring a total increase of around 60 cents for a pack of twenty cigarettes.

Unemployment benefits to be cut for those who don't find work

Unemployment benefits will be cut if the claimant does not fulfil the so-called 'activation criteria' mandated by a new law. The claimant's activity will be checked every 65 days and if he or she is not undertaking work-related training or working at least 18 hours, he or she will suffer a 4.65 percent cut in unemployment benefit payments. There is already a citizens' initiative aiming to strike down this relatively new legislation.

Entrepreneurship won't bring immediate penalties

If an unemployed person starts a company, they will get to keep their unemployment benefits for four months. The unemployed will also get expanded rights to claim mobility assistance payments for part-time work and training places.

National pensions frozen

The state national pension, which tops up income-related pensions, is to be frozen in 2018 with no index increases. The guarantee or basic pension, which is paid to the very poorest pensioners, will be increased by 15 euros a month. The amount of extra child benefit paid to single parents will be increased to 53.30 euros per child, per month.

Car tax cut

The car tax will be cut from 1 January, especially for lower-emission vehicles. Finland's cash for clunkers scheme will also make a comeback, with motorists paid to trade in older models for newer, less polluting vehicles or to convert petrol or diesel engines to ethanol or LPG engines.

Tax down, pension payments up

Payslips will look different from January, with pension and unemployment insurance payments creeping up by 0.2 percentage points and 0.3 percentage points respectively. Those changes will be compensated by an equivalent reduction in income taxes across income bands.

Easier student support for teenagers

Parental income will no longer affect the student benefit paid to 18 and 19-year-olds living independently. That means they will receive the basic amount of 250.28 euros per month.

Early years education payments reduced

Early years education is to become cheaper for many families, with some 71 million euros ploughed in to reducing the cost. Some 6,700 families will be freed from any payments at all, while savings for others could run into the thousands of euros.

Fishing license fee raised

Fishing licenses will go from 39 euros to 45 euros for the whole calendar year, while the weekly fee will increase to 15 euros from 12 and the day fee will jump one euro from five to six euros.

Heating oil gets dearer, mortgage interest deductions cut

On average, changes to the tax levied on heating oil mean the cost of heating a detached family home will rise by some 43 euros, while the cost of district heating will jump by some nine euros. The mortgage interest tax deduction will be cut again, with 35 percent of interest payments eligible to be deducted from tax bills—a drop of some 10 percentage points on 2017.

Yle tax goes up, but fewer pay

The Yle tax will no longer be paid by people earning less than 14,000 euros a year. That takes some 390,000 people out of the Yle tax base, and will be compensated by a 2.5 percent jump in payments for everyone else. The maximum amount will be 163 euros per year, deducted at source by Finland's tax administration.

Kids go free on commuter trains

Finland's state railway firm, VR, is to raise the age limit for free travel from four to seven on commuter trains. They do not need to be in a pram, as has hitherto been the case on local trains in the Helsinki region.

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