Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why do you have to read stuff like this here and not in your newspaper?

.... because what you really NEED to know doesn't sell newspapers. If you buy and read newspapers full of guff you don't need to know, whose fault is that?

I've been following for some time this story about an English couple, Paul Hodgkinson and his wife Andrea who tried settling in Norway. It's tragic. The URLS below will tell you most of what you need to know about their plight  ...... my situation is briefly summed up after that ...

If you're new to this blog, a quick summary of my situation in Norway is :

Worked and paid taxes in Norway for 23 years
Owned a house in Norway (only house I've ever owned) for 15 years
Have a 14 year old Norwegian son of whom I have shared custody

UDI (Norwegian Immigration Service) refused to renew my Norwegian residence permit 6 months after my son was born because my work sometimes (146 days work in Norway, 53 at sea) took me aboard Norwegian registered boats sailing out of Norway which they interpreted as me not being in Norway for more than three months at a time and therefore, I didn't need a residence permit so they wouldn't give me one (which is where this piece of information from the Skatteetaten ... Norwegian tax ministry ... web site is pertinent)
"Persons who are resident in Norway are as a rule obliged to be members of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme, cf. the National Insurance Act section 2-1. A person is deemed to be resident if his/her stay in Norway is intended or has lasted for at least 12 months. It is a condition that the person in question has a residence permit in Norway. Membership applies irrespective of the employee’s citizenship and the employer’s nationality.”
Of course, National Insurance Contributions are still included in my tax assessments so I am regarded as a tax resident of Norway, National Insurance Contributions are taken from me but I am entitled to nothing in return ... no regular doctor, no social security, no "dagpenger" (dole), "sykpenger" (sickness benefit) or even money to look after my son if he lives with me permanently.
The EFTA Surveillance Authority ruled Norway's administration of benefits to foreign workers illegal in this 2011 ruling 
Since then I have kept my presence in Norway legal by not being here more than 3 months at a time
After my unsuccessful attempt to renew my residence permit, I was obliged to sign off the Norwegian "folkregister" turning the only house I owned into my "holiday home" as far as the Norwegian state was concerned.. I then spent years trying to deal with the tax implications of running a business from "a holiday home" (not necessarily legal)
440,000-+ Norwegian Krones (about £50,000) worth of taxes deducted from my gross turnover (30%) paid to Norway between 1989 and 1997 were awarded ZERO pension points. Bear this in mind if you're thinking of being self-employed in Norway. 30% of your GROSS turnover ... not your wages or income AFTER EXPENSES.
Just after that, my application for a tax card was refused because I didn't live in Norway. This put me onto a special tax regime for foreign workers where taxes were deducted at source even though I still "lived" in between contracts with my son at my Norwegian house on what I'd managed to save.
In 2009 I was one of about 20 foreign workers  working in Norway through a Norwegian firm based in Sarpsborg called Elite Music run by Elise Høvik and her daughter Ywonne Skjønnhaug (also uses variations on that name .. "Yvonne" ).  The hotel in which I worked in April 2009 paid Elite Music the appropriate fees and Elite Music didn't pay me. The same thing happened for the May 2009 contract. It was then I contacted NAV (the Norwegian Social Security / benefits department with this email ....

"I have not been paid by Elite Music for work done at ***********  Hotels who say they have paid Elite Music. Elite Music's contracts say "Godkjent av Arbeidsdirektoratet".
It seems about 16 workers are owed about 1,000,000,00,- by Elite Music. Elite Music staff are now working at *******  Booking who have been appointed exclusive booking agents for workers into ********* Hotels.
I have a 10 year old son in Norway and have a bolig lan (mortgage) I have to pay every month as well as money to support my son who lives with his mother who is depressed and long term unemployed through sickness.
Can you help me and the other artistes get paid? We are all just getting deeper and deeper into debt."
This email was ignored. I re-sent it to them a year later .... this generally how things work in Norway ....

I visited the NAV office near to where I was working. They told me to contact the police in Ostfold (Sapsborg area) . This achieved nothing. 

By September 2009 I was owed a total of 100,000,- Norwegian Kroner and had been living in Norway by drawing money out of Norwegian cash points using a British credit card and using that to pay my maintainance (due even though my son chose to spend most of his time with me when I was "home")

By February 2010, I'd eventually got my hands on papers and deciphered them and forensically worked out Elite Music had been "creaming off" some of my tax deductions for years and doing the same with the other foreign artistes. This created an accounting nightmare since I couldn't produce a Norwegian tax return for 2007 until I had INCLUDED into my Norwegian tax return the expenses included in the invoices to Elite Music which they HADN'T declared to Skatteetaten.

I notified Skatt Vest of the months work in 2007 Elite Music had not declared to them and waa told it was too late to appeal against the tax assessment for 2007 (including National Insurance Contributions of course) they'd imposed on me. However, in November 2010, they sent me a letter (confidential) telling me how to manage the debris of the accounting chaos Elite Music had created with advice on how to fill in my tax returns for 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Not only can I not find any evidence of Elite Music or the people who ran the business being prosecuted for stealing foreign workers wages and taxes, I can't find any evidence of ANY Norwegian company being prosecuted for stealing foreign workers taxes and / or wages.

If you have any evidence of this, please send it.

I have never recovered from 2009's eventa which, of course, were ultimately set in motion by me being stupid enough to accept work on a Norwegian boat in 1999 which justified my residence permit not being renewed..

This is why I am about to lose my house as the fines and interest due for late or non submission of accounts combined with the loss of work to regular customers who themselves were obliged to use future budgets to deal with the trouble Elite Music caused for them .....has proved fatal to my business. My ex can live on benefits in Norway where there is no work forever. If I am not to abandon my Norwegian son to a depressed Mum and try and avoid being "an absent father", I have to keep a house where I have never worked to keep contact with him and try and live of what I've saved. The reality is, without access to any benefits, I've been living on money I should have saved to pay my restskatt and it's the tax department taking my house.

Of course, I don't have any right to live in Norway to collect what's left of my Norwegian pension anyway so I would have to leave soon anyway.

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