As a rule, Norwegians are honest and open about their salaries. Advertisements for jobs clearly specify the rate of pay, and there are no attempts to be evasive with offers of “competitive salary” or a “salary commensurate with experience.” That’s because Norwegians have been able to access their fellow citizens' tax returns since the early 1800s. And now, in the digital age, it is even easer for people to find out what their friends and neighbors are earning, and paying in taxes. Each year in October, every Norwegian’s annual tax return is posted online. Newspapers quickly put together top 10 lists of the country’s highest earners, from political bosses to celebrities and sports stars.
Transparency at work:
- In 2014, the law was slightly altered. If you want to look up someone’s financial information, he or she will be notified about the inquiry. Since then, the number of requests has dropped off considerably.
- However, there is no such restriction on the Norwegian media. Journalists have unlimited and anonymous access to tax returns, both past and present.
- Norwegian officials say tax transparency may contribute to a flatter and more equal pay structure in the country.