An increasing number of Norwegians who have disguised their assets in tax havens abroad now wish to come clean.
"Some people wish to sleep better at night. They want to ease their conscience and come clean," says Tax Director Hans Christian Holte.
During the first six months of 2014, 153 individuals chose to report assets and income that they have not previously disclosed to the government. That is an increase of 35 percent compared to the same time period in 2013.
Those who choose to report their assets voluntarily are forgiven. They still have to pay the taxes they owe, including interest rates, dating back ten years. But those who choose to come clean are not punished with additional taxes.
The world is becoming more and more open, and the Suisse banking culture is on the defense, Holte explains. The tax director thinks that people are feeling the pressure, and that both Switzerland and other countries give out more information than before, sooner.
"Switzerland has traditionally been closed when it comes to information about the banks' clients. This has been a well-known fact in Norway, and Norwegians have viewed it as the country where they can hide their money," Holte says.
With new agreements in place, however, Switzerland is becoming a secret hiding place of the past.
For the past six months, tax authorities have reached decisions in 100 tax cases where people reported themselves voluntarily. In total, the taxable amount was estimated at NOK 2,5 billion in assets, and NOK 145 million in income.
"Some are grateful that they can come clean by just paying the tax they have evaded for the past ten years plus interest rates. It is quite rare that people are so thankful to pay their taxes," Holte tells Aftenposten.