Swedish government offers tax deferral to businesses

High energy prices and high inflation are hitting Sweden's businesses hard. With energy price subsidies for these consumers delayed, the government is now extending existing tax deferral schemes implemented during the pandemic to ease the pressure.

Swedish government offers tax deferral to businesses
Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson and Energy and Business Minister Ebba Busch at a press conference on Thursday. Photo: Marko Säävälä/TT

Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson and Energy and Business Minister Ebba Busch announced the scheme at a press conference on Thursday.

“Many, many companies are now struggling with their liquidity,” Svantesson said.

The deferral scheme is similar to that proposed by the previous government in order to ease the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on companies, which was due to run out in February. The government has now proposed extending this scheme, allowing companies to delay their tax payments.

“These proposals will make things easier for many businesses,” Svantesson said.

The tax deferral scheme is not, Busch explained, being introduced as a replacement for the energy price subsidy for businesses which was supposed to be paid out “before Christmas” and which has now been withdrawn temporarily while the government figures out how it can be introduced without breaking EU law.

“No, rather this is a measure we’ve been looking at for a while, which should be seen as a complement,” she said.

According to rough estimates, the government believes that around 12,000 companies will apply for tax deferral, which would mean around 16 billion kronor in tax payments being delayed until a later date.

Företagarna, Sweden’s largest organisation of business owners representing around 60,000 companies across different branches, has welcomed the move, despite also voicing criticism that it’s just pushing these problems further into the future.

“It’s a loan and all loans need to be paid back over time,” Företagarna’s CEO Günther Mårder said.

Företagarna did, however, agree that the scheme will be necessary for some businesses to survive.

“Most companies going under are doing so because of liquidity problems, and this new measure will strengthen liquidity in the short-term,” Mårder said, adding that the measure could “save businesses”.

However, with many businesses already owing back taxes delayed during the pandemic, Mårder believes this could just be adding to the mountain of debt already faced by some companies.

“It means it will be record-breakingly difficult to get over this hump,” he said. “What they’re doing now is pushing problems into the future, and of course, that’s also a solution.”

The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise is positive towards the government’s proposal, adding that the many Swedish companies are currently in a difficult situation.

“Since the repayment of bottleneck revenues [energy price subsidies] is delayed, it is good and fair that companies have the opportunity to extend their tax deferrals,” Jonas Frycklund, vice chief finance officer of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise wrote in a statement.

“This will lower the risk of having to let employees go unnecessarily.”

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Mad about the roi: a brief history of British royals’ visits to France

Despite warnings of pension reform protests during King Charles III's impending three-day visit, France, which beheaded its own king and queen, has a long-running love affair with the British royal family that has endured ups-and-downs in the cross-Channel relationship.

Mad about the roi: a brief history of British royals' visits to France

From Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II, visiting British monarchs have received a warm welcome in Paris over the past 170 years.

Thawed relations
In August 1855, Queen Victoria made a state visit to Paris, the first by a British monarch in 400 years.

After spending centuries at war Britain and France were fighting together against the Russian Empire in Crimea.

In a landmark moment, Victoria visited Napoleon I’s tomb at Les Invalides in Paris. “I stood on the arm of Napoleon III, before the coffin of his Uncle, our bitterest foe! I, the granddaughter of that King, who hated Napoleon most,” she wrote in her journal.

The grande finale was a sumptuous supper and a ball for 1,200 guests hosted by the emperor at the Palace of Versailles.

READ ALSO ‘No plans’ to change Charles III visit to strike-hit France

Entente Cordiale
Two years after Queen Victoria’s death her son Edward VII visited France in the spring of 1903, amid renewed tensions over the two European powers’ colonial rivalry.

President Emile Loubet welcomed him with great pomp, but he had to work hard to win over an initially hostile French public.

On April 8, 1904, his efforts bore fruit in the form of the Entente Cordiale, a landmark treaty settling Britain and France’s colonial disputes.

Clouds of war

Europe was on the brink of World War I when King George V and Queen Mary visited Paris in April 1914.

As the royal motorcade passed, Parisians lined avenues paved with the colours of the Union flag.

During a state dinner at the Elysee presidential palace, President Raymond Poincare hailed the Franco-British Entente as “one of the soundest guarantees of European equilibrium”.

Long live the King
In July 1938, Europe was again on the threshold of war when King George VI  and Queen Elizabeth swept into Paris to cries of “Long live the king!”

George VI had ascended to the throne after his elder brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated in order to marry a twice-divorced American, Wallis Warfield Simpson.

The visit came at a time of growing alarm in Paris and London at Nazi Germany’s war preparations.

For the traditional banquet at the Elysee Palace, Queen Elizabeth wore the “Koh I Noor”, the biggest diamond in the world.

READ ALSO Protest fears as security stepped up for King Charles’ visit to France

Queen of French hearts
Over her seven-decade reign, Queen Elizabeth II made five state visits to France, winning hearts with her command of the language, dry wit and what she called her “great affection for the French”.

Her first official visit as a newly-married 21-year-old princess in 1948 caused a sensation, with crowds lining the street to try to catch a glimpse of her and husband Prince Philip.

Her star power was still in evidence when she made her first state visit to France as queen in 1957. President Rene Coty pulled out all the stops, putting on a banquet at the
Louvre museum and sprucing up the banks of the Seine for Elizabeth’s river cruise.

As the years passed, her visits take on a more overtly diplomatic flavour, marking the UK’s entry into the European Economic Community in 1972, the centenary of the Entente Cordiale in 2004 and the 70th anniversary of the World War II D-Day landings in 2004.

Conveying his sympathy to the British people on her death last year, President Emmanuel Macron said: “To you, she was your Queen. To us, she was The Queen.”