OSLO, Norway - The Norwegian Tax Administration urged Filipino au pairs working in Norway to obtain tax cards and demand payslips from their host families to ensure that they get paid right and that taxes being deducted by their host families from their allowances are being paid to the government.
The advice was given by two tax officers at a recent information meeting held in Oslo after it was learned that most au pairs including most Filipinos are not aware of how much they should pay in taxes and are clueless as to how they can find out if their host families are deducting the right amount of taxes from their allowances.
In an interview with ABS-CBN Europe, tax official Torunn Haugen said that it is important that “when (au pairs) come to Norway, they need to get a tax card form the tax office and they should give the tax card to their employer so he or she can deduct the tax (from the allowance).”
The tax card specifies the percentage amount that the au pair has to pay in taxes.
Her colleague, Nina Risoey also said that the au pairs should "keep each payslip every month and that they should "tell (their ) employer that it is important for (them) to have (the payslips) “since the payslip will show how much they their host families have paid in taxes and if they are entitled to a tax refund.
According to Rodolfo Javier Jr. of the Filipino Workers Organization (FWO), the lack of knowledge on tax regulations is common among Filipino au pairs here in Norway.
“Ang nae-encounter namin na mga problema lalo na sa mga Filipino au pair dito sa Norway, kadalasan ay nababawasan sila ng tax na wala silang tax card at kung paano sila nababawasan ng ganung amount,” Javier told ABS-CBN Europe in an interview.
This confusion about tax rules is what pushed au pair Alma Sumaylo, 27 and former au pair Herma Rodriguez, 33 to to come to the information meeting spearheaded by JURK, a legal aid organization for women in Norway.
Sumaylo said she had been working as an au pair since February this year and had already obtained a tax card but still went to the meeting because she is “curious about how they (tax office) are calculating the tax.”
Rodriguez, who is a now a student but used to work as an au pair said she used to not care about taxes when she was an au pair but she went to the meeting anyway since her sister is coming to Norway to work in a few months and that it would be useful to know “kung ano talaga ang dapat gawin regarding sa tax.”
Both had never heard of the flat 10% income tax that foreigners have to pay if they had only been in the country for two years until they came to the meeting.
In the meeting, some au pairs admitted that they have heard that one has to pay as much as 36% in taxes. Most of them also said that their host families have not given them payslips.
Norwegian tax regulations state that au pairs working in the country for more than six months had to pay taxes for incomes exceeding 40,000 kroners.
Depending on how much they get in allowances, most au pairs have to pay at least 10% of what they get in allowances from their host families.
The tax office known as Skatteetaten also has an English page on their official website at www.taxnorway.no so that au pairs can read about Norwegian tax regulations.
Au pairs usually get 4,000-5,000 kroner as monthly allowances from their host families and get 110 kroner allowance per day in addition for board and lodging if they live away from the host family residence.
In the meeting, JURK advocacy officer Lene Loevdal, said it is important for au pairs to get the right information regarding the tax issue.
“We want to help the Filipino au pairs to empower them to make good choices, informed choices, that you can only do if you know the rules and regulations that are relevant for you,” Loeval added.
“Filipinos are lovely but you are not always experienced to say 'no', and sometimes it can be easier to say 'no' if you know exactly what your rights are,” she concluded with a smile.
Next month, JURK is formally launching a brochure for au pairs informing them of their rights and duties in Norway.