Erna Solberg admits she misjudged the house in Bergen

Erna Solberg admits she misjudged the house in Bergen

Erna Solberg is suspected of paying high taxes on the property in Bergen. Bergen contacted the municipality to correct the error.

The leader of the Conservative Party, Erna Solberg, says she has contacted the municipality of Bergen to fix the property tax. Here at Storting in early October after the throne speech debate.

Short version

Former prime minister Erna Solberg may have been wrongly taxed for years on her home in Bergen. She admitted this to Optenposten after we contacted her about the matter.

It’s probably not a question of large sums – and it’s not clear whether she’s over- or under-taxed.

The property in Bergen is divided into two parts: the residential part and the commercial part. It has been like this since the house was built in 1988 by the then owner. Before the Solberg family took over the house, there was, among other things, a couple’s therapy office downstairs.

The Solbergs never applied for rezoning or change of use until they lived there.

Commercial and residential properties are taxed differently in Bergen.

– Commercial unit mistakenly appears to be subject to property tax as residence. So I have contacted the municipality of Bergen to fix this, the conservative leader tells Aftenposten.

Solberg says that the outcome of the case depends on the new rate that the municipality of Bergen decides now.

Error for many years

Figures obtained by Aftenposten from the property tax office in Bergen indicate that the commercial part of the property has been taxed on housing for several years, including in 2023.

In the years 2012-2014, Bergen did not have a property tax for housing, but there was a tax for commercial properties. During these years, Solberg’s property was listed with NOK 0 in property tax.

Solberg writes that the business unit is reported as business property on the 2021 and 2022 tax returns. In previous tax returns, the unit should be reported as a secondary residence.

– A mistake that happened in 2021, we managed to fix it. Solberg replied that as long as the property was properly registered with the Swedish Tax Agency, I might have paid too much property tax.

The wealth tax depends on the value of the house and is expected to be less if the commercial area is assessed as such.

Solberg writes that tax returns look different today than they did a long time ago, and it’s clear that since 2017 the household has been reported in two categories.

– Prior to this, the entire house appears to be taxed as a unit, but this is thought to be due to changes in layout only.

When asked if property taxes should have been paid in the commercial sector in 2012-2014, Solberg replied, “It was only in 2021 that we corrected this error in the tax return”.

PST used foundation

The commercial area is “a basement that is not rented out, but which Cindre and I use as part of our home,” the Høyre leader told Aftenposten.

– During my tenure as Prime Minister, the Security Service of the Police managed this unit free of charge. They used it as a safe room and storage space, he says.

The tax error is based on the fact that commercial buildings and homes are subject to different property taxes.

The tax regime has changed over the years that Solberg has owned the property. But local property taxes for businesses generally have higher rates than home taxes.

Today, commercial properties in Bergen are taxed at the full tax rate of 5 per thousand.

Housing is taxed at 2.8 per thousand for 70 percent of the valuation above a minimum of NOK 800,000.

– Maybe I paid too much

This does not mean that Solberg should pay very low taxes. This is because commercial property is valued much less than residential property.

Solberg mentions this in his reply to Aftenposten.

– So I might have paid a bit more in property tax, but that now depends on the discretionary areas of the rate that Bergen municipality decides. On the other hand, if it turns out that I have paid too little property tax, I will return whatever the municipality receives, he writes.

Solberg says he must have discovered that the home was not properly taxed after the business property was correctly reported on the tax return:

– Bergen municipality receives its information from the tax agency, and the property is reported as commercial property in the tax return for 2021 and 2022. I don’t know why the error occurred, but I certainly should have discovered it when I received the property tax decision from Bergen municipality, he writes.

Solberg says Bergen Municipality inspected the house in 2019. This, he believes, may indicate that they knew it was a business unit, but still taxed it as a house.

– He writes that we were informed that they were going to the inspection, but I could not find any document from the municipality about the result of the inspection.

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