Sweden Gives Tax Breaks For All Kinds of Repairs

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Sweden Gives Tax Breaks For All Kinds of Repairs

Swedes may also be able to claim back from income tax half of the labour cost on repairs. Photograph: Phil Banko/Getty Images
Swedes may also be able to claim back from income tax half of the labor cost on repairs. Photograph: Phil Banko/Getty Images

We currently live in a highly consumerist society, where we gather large amounts of stuff, some of which we don’t really need in the first place. And only to quickly get bored with them, that’s if they don’t break apart before that. So what do we normally do then? We, of course, buy new stuff, and the cycle repeats itself, more or less for the betterment of the economy, and the huge disadvantage for the planet as a whole.

That’s why the Swedish government has taken upon itself to break this vicious cycle and introduce some tax breaks on repairs from bikes to washing machines and everything in between. The currently ruling Social Democrat party, together with the Greens, have formed a coalition and submitted a proposal to the parliament, in order to reduce the tax rates on repairs from 25% to 12%.It will also submit a proposal that would allow people to claim back from income tax half of the labour cost on repairs to appliances such as fridges, ovens, dishwashers and washing machines.

“We believe that this could substantially lower the cost and so make it more rational economic behaviour to repair your goods,” said Per Bolund, Sweden’s minister for financial markets and consumer affairs and one of six Green party cabinet members.

Bolund believes that these VAT cuts will reduce the cost of a repair, now estimated at about 400 SEK, by at least about 50 SEK. This, he hopes, will be enough to stimulate the repair industry in the country. He also believes that these new tax breaks will spur the creation of new home-repair shops and services across Sweden, and thus providing work opportunities for those with less formal education. These incentives and tax breaks are part of the government’s larger agenda for reducing its own carbon footprint. And now, it would seem that they’re extending their “green fingers” by reducing CO2 emissions tied to goods produced elsewhere.

Since 1990, Sweden has been able to cut own its carbon footprint by 23%, in large part by generating half its energy needs from renewable sources. However, with their great strides on this front, greenhouse gas emissions linked to over-consumption had been steadily increasing over the years.

“I believe there is a shift in view in Sweden at the moment. There is an increased knowledge that we need to make our things last longer in order to reduce materials’ consumption,” Bolund said.

The proposals will be presented in parliament as part of the government’s budget proposals and if voted through in December will become law from 1 January 2017.