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Yle poll: MPs back multiple municipal residency

The rise in city dwellers remote working from summer cottages has fuelled calls for rural areas to receive more tax income.

kesämökki Asikkalassa
MPs in favour of multiple residency say that the rise in people working from summer cottages during the pandemic justifies the change. Image: Juha-Petri Koponen / Yle

An Yle survey of MPs has found a majority back changing the law to enable people to be registered as resident in more than one municipality.

Any change would mean that people had the right to live and pay taxes in more than one place.

Despite strong support among MPs, many respondents highlighted the constitutional barriers to allowing multiple residency.

Should multiple residency be made legal, so that people can live and pay taxes in more than one municipality?
Most respondents backed multiple residency. Image: Ilkka Kemppinen / Yle

Of 125 respondents, 74 were in favour of allowing multiple residency and 27 were opposed, while 24 declined to say. There are 200 MPs in Parliament.

A fairer system

Supporters of multiple residency said the change was justified by growing numbers of people staying at summer houses away from their main residence for longer periods.

Paying taxes to a second municipality is a matter of fairness, they said.

Should multiple residency be made legal, so that people can live and pay taxes in more than one municipality?
There was support across opposition and government parties. Image: Ilkka Kemppinen / Yle

"The problem is that even if you were to live for most of the year outside of your registered municipality, using the services of the other municipality, tax is paid only to the registered municipality," said Satakunta MP Eeva Kalli (Cen).

According to MP Jouni Kotiaho (Finns), multiple residency would solve an issue whereby so-called "cottage municipalities" (often rural areas where many people own summer cottages) receive state subsidies only according to their registered year-round population.

"Multiple residency would correct this flaw and would be fair to cottage municipalities," Kotiaho wrote.

Kesämökki veden äärellä.
Cottage municipalities could benefit from a shake-up of the current system, supporters said. Image: Alamy / All Over Press

Proponents of multiple residency also highlighted another current practice, where municipalities restrict access to some services to their own residents.

"A significant portion of public services are tied to your home municipality. That currently means that, for example, those living outside their registered municipality for long periods due to work or personal reasons cannot access the services they need," said Left Alliance MP Anna Kontula.

MPs from the opposition Finns Party as well as three government parties -- the Centre, the Swedish People's Party (SPP) and the Left Alliance -- were most likely to support multiple residency.

When Yle asked party leaders for their positions on the issue last month only Green leader Maria Ohisalo, Centre chair Annika Saarikko and SPP leader Anna-Maja Henriksson expressed support.

Thorny constitutional issues

Among those MPs opposing a potential change to multiple residency was National Coalition Party MP Pia Kauma.

Kauma said the current system was sufficient as children only tend to receive schooling in a single municipality.

"These are the basic services that take up the majority of tax euros. People bring income to other areas by using the various services there while they are, for example, remote working," she said.

The rules on multiple residency were clarified during the last election. A working group that investigated the issue found that interfering with municipal tax law would cause constitutional problems.

Some MPs who were unsure about multiple residency referred to such issues.

"According to studies, implementing multiple residency would not be without its problems. Instead, it is worth seeking lighter-touch solutions like entering a secondary municipality in the population register, finding specific solutions to improve the rights of children moving between two municipalities, inter-municipal service cooperation and distance learning," wrote Saara Hyrkkö (Green).

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