Guide to Norwegian Tax Law Research

This is a guide to sources of tax law in Norway and it explains where or how relevant legislation and other material may be obtained.

Most of the sources are in Norwegian, but partly English language guides to Norwegian taxation are made by the Directorate of taxes (“Skattedirektoratet”):

Personal taxation
Taxation for business and organisations
Information for advisors
International pages  (also information in Polish)

Information from The Ministry of Finance
.

Other information may be found in the various IBFD online databases. On print, IBFD publish the European Tax Handbook which covers 49 countries and jurisdictions, including Norway. Last edition is European Tax Handbook 2016.

From Norwegian publishers, there is very little material in English. The occasional booklet may be published by the “big four”.

Some material for the Nordic countries are found at  Nordic Tax Research Council. A portal deals with Nordic tax matters for individuals. A country by country overview of the legal databases and online guides to electronic legal resources that are currently available in Norway, Denmark and Sweden may be found at https://www.llrx.com/2001/04/features-online-legal-information-in-denmark-norway-and-sweden/.  A guide "Legal information in Norway: electronic and printed sources" is made by Pål A. Bertnes. Norwegian  law in foreign languages, a bibliography, is made by Kirsti Lothe Jacobsen, University of Bergen. Generally, most web pages will have some information available in English. Some tax related reports in English may  be found at Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research.

The Lovdata Foundation establish and operate legal information systems on a non-profit basis. Rettsdata Norsk Lovkommentar is a searchable database in which all the relevant legislation, case law and administrative material is compiled.  The libraries of the law faculties of the universities in Oslo, Bergen and Tromsø has created a web page, Juridisk Nettviser, from which links may be found to a number of fields of law, as well as to foreign and international law. This is very helpful when exploring where to find sources of law.

I. Constitutional matters, Administration and Allocation of Revenue

Income tax is levied both at local and national level. However, the split mainly governs the allocation of revenue between the central and local government. All taxes are levied under the same legislation and by the same administration. 

In theory, local government may set rates below the national standard, but this has never happened. Corporation tax and indirect taxes are national taxes.
Only Parliament (“Stortinget”), www.stortinget.no in Norwegian, or in English, may levy taxes, and it must do so on a yearly basis, under § 75a) of the Constitution (“Grunnloven”). All taxes, including customs duties, are levied by a yearly tax resolution, which refers to the tax legislation and which forms part of the Budget. General information on the Budget may be found on www.statsbudsjett.dep.no, which also has a brief overview in English. There is no literature dealing with constitutional matters related to tax only. A general introduction to Norwegian tax law, that includes some constitutional aspects, is; Frederik Zimmer, “Lærebok i Skatterett”, 6 ed. Universitetsforlaget 2009. Norway is not a member of the European Union, but is part of the internal market by virtue of the European Economic Area agreement (EEA). The EFTA Surveillance Authority  ensures that EEA rules are properly enacted and applied by the EFTA States. The latest news may be found directly in the Public document database.   For Norway, the EFTA court, has jurisdiction over the interpretation of the agreement. The court has many of the same functions as the European Court of Justicealthough its jurisdiction is more limited. Under EEA, most European law on the internal market is directly relevant. A book dealing specifically with the EEA agreement and tax is, Dajani et. al. “EØS-avtalen og norsk skatterett”, Universitetsforlaget 2003. 

II. Legislation and regulations

There is no single tax code, even if most of the legislation on income and corporation tax is contained in the Taxes Act. All legislation is available on www.lovdata.no in Norwegian, some information in English.  Some legislation is also available in English translations including some of the tax legislation. In addition to the acts themselves, regulations are of great importance, and are widely used in the tax legislation.

Income and corporation tax and net wealth tax

The general legislation on income tax and corporation tax, including net wealth tax, may be found in the Taxes Act (“Skatteloven”), which is more or less a “tax code”. In addition, there is some special legislation like the Act on Tax on Foreign Artists (“Artistskatteloven”) the Svalbard Taxes Act (“Svalbardskatteloven”) and the Jan Mayen Taxes Act. Also, there is a special Petroleum Taxes Act, (“Petroleumsskatteloven”). The standard textbook in Norwegian tax law is; Frederik Zimmer, “Lærebok i Skatterett”, 7 ed. Universitetsforlaget 2014. The international aspects of Norwegian tax law are covered by; Fredrik Zimmer, “Internasjonal inntektsskatterett”, 4 ed. Universitetsforlaget 2009. A general commentary to the Taxes Act is: Greni et. al. “Skattelovkommentaren”, Kommuneforlaget 2004. Older commentaries in the same series are still relevant. General text books on business taxation are: Brudvik, “Skatterett for Næringsdrivende 2015” , Cappelen Damm 2015, Gjems-Onstad, “Norsk Bedriftsskatterett”, 9 ed., Gyldendal 2015, Zimmer et. al. “Bedrift, selskap og skatt”, 6 ed., Universitetsforlaget 2014.

Value added tax

The VAT legislation is contained in the Value Added Tax Act (“Merverdiavgiftsloven”), and in the regulations to that Act. An English version is published by the Directorate of Taxes. Some other information are available at www.skatteetaten.no. An introduction to VAT is available in Gjems-Onstad and Kildal, “Lærebok i merverdiavgift", 4 ed. Gyldendal Akademisk 2013 (also as e-book). Another introduction is also available, Trond Kristoffersen, Merverdiavgift (lærebok), 2 ed, Fagbokforlaget 2016.

Inheritance tax

The inheritantce tax was abolished from 2014. The basis of inheritance tax may be found in the former Inheritance Taxes Act (“Arveavgiftsloven”). There is very little written on inheritance tax, but an overview is given in Gjems-Onstad, “Norsk Bedriftsskatterett”, 8 ed, Gyldendal 2012. 

Taxes management

Income, net wealth, value added tax, exice duties and corporation tax is administered by the Taxes Management Act, 
Skatteforvaltningsloven. There is a commentary to the legislation from Directorate of Taxes, Skatteforvaltningshåndboka.
The customs administration is governed by the Customs Act (“Tolloven”)
.

A centralised appeal tribunal was established from 1 July 2016 in Stavanger. The appeal must be sent to the Tax Office for a new evaluation of the case and for possible preparation for the Appeal Tribunal if the decision is upheld. There are separate appeal tribunals for petroleum taxation and for taxation according to the Svalbard Taxes Act.

III. Treaties

The Norwegian treaties are incorporated into the legislation as soon as they become effective through the Double Tax treaty Act of 1949. By virtue of that Act, treaties take precedence over conflicting legislation. All the treaties may be found on the home page of the Ministry of Finance in Norwegian version or in  English version. This also include the government proposals to Parliament in which the treaties are explained. The treaties are also published at Lovdata. Generally, there is little guidance on the understanding of the treaties in the traveaux preparatoires. In practice, the main guidance is the OECD commentaries.

IV. Administrative material

Statements of practice in Norwegian and
news in English from the Ministry of Finance are published Older ones may also be found in the Tax Law Reports. In practice, these are greatly relied on in the interpretation of the tax legislation. Another important source, in which much administrative practice is compiled is the "Skatte-ABC".  This is published on a yearly basis by the Directorate of Taxes, editions from 2016 and earlier under the name “Lignings ABC”. A number of advance rulings in Norwegian are published in anonymous form on the web site of the Directorate of Taxes.  There is no independent board preparing the rulings. Thus, they tend to reflect the view of the tax administration. From 2017 appeals over binding rulings may be sent to the Appeal Tribunal, and some of the rulings are published. The traveaux preparatoires must be consulted when interpreting the legislation. The proposals from the Ministry of Finance (since 1994) are available in Norwegian.

V. Case law

Judgements of the Supreme Court (“Høyesterett”) and to some extent of the lower courts carry a great deal of weight. Recent judgments may be found on www.lovdata.no, and this site also has a subscription service where older judgments may be found. There is also a printed source of case law in the Tax Law Reports (“Dommer, uttalelser m.v.  i skattesaker”), which also contains statements of practice from the Ministry of Finance, as well as other general information on (direct) tax matters.

VI. Periodicals

There is one Norwegian periodical focusing only on tax law. The Tax Law Review, (Skatterett), is published by Universitetsforlaget four times per year.


Rev 5.3.17