Norwegians are among the most heavily taxed people in the world, and that in turn has made Norway one of the most expensive countries in which to live. Most accept the taxes they're ordered to pay on income and even net worth and property, but growing numbers are publicly complaining about sky-high taxes on everything from cars to fuel to consumer goods.Americans, while grumbling about it, will pay income taxes, property taxes and sales taxes (so long as they are reasonable). But paying $16 dollars for a glass of wine means either the taxes are too high or that is a really, really, really good wine. No American is going to pay $9 for a gallon of gas, while most Europeans regularly pay that much.
Norwegians differentiate between skatter (taxes) and avgifter (duties, fees or user taxes) and the latter is the most hated. They're what causes a glass of house wine at an Oslo restaurant to cost the equivalent of nearly USD 16, or a gallon of gas to cost nearly USD 9 at current exchange rates.
"It's clear that taxes are much too high in oil-rich Norway," Oslo resident Gro Pettersen told newspaper Aftenposten. "It's sick!"
The taxes placed on new cars, which can more than double the price of the car itself, are another bone of contention, even though most Norwegians support measures to protect the environment. "The car tax is much too high, but so are most all the other avgifter also," said Ernst Bendiksen of the northern city of Vadsø, where Norwegians are far more dependent on their cars than those living in cities with good public transit systems. "We certainly don't get anything in return for them."
The acceptance of taxes always came with a benefit, a massive social welfare system. But if the social welfare system is so expensive that it requires taxation rates of astronomical proportions, it would seem to me that the logical step would be to cut back on social services. But that is hard when entire generations have grown up with such a system.