Finns support tax-deductible union dues | Trade Union Pro
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Finns support tax-deductible union dues

25.7.2014 13:00
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A clear majority of Finns do not support the proposal to remove the right to deduct trade union membership dues in private income taxation. This became clear in a poll commissioned by the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

Helsinki (24.07.2014 - Heikki Jokinen)

In total 59 per cent of citizens asked said they want to continue with the present trade union dues tax-deduction system. Only 14 per cent fully agreed with the idea to make union dues non tax-deductible.

The debate intensified in June when the current prime minister and chairperson of the conservative National Coalition Party, Alexander Stubb was campaigning for the party leadership. He demanded an end to this tax-deductible allowance.

The chairperson of the Confederation of Finnish Industries, Ilpo Kokkila soon came out with the same demand. He also asked whether we should end the widely used practice whereby employers collect trade union dues on behalf of the unions.

As expected, the poll showed that those who vote for right wing parties were more favourable towards the abolition of tax deduction in respect of union dues. However, the only party where a majority supported it was the National Coalition Party. A total of 55 per cent of their supporters viewed the proposal positively.

Among the voters of the Left Alliance and the Social Democratic Party support for the existing practice was overwhelming. Somewhat surprisingly only 17 per cent of Green Party voters fully or to some extent supported Stubbs' demand. The Green Party activists are often critical of the trade union movement.

The difference between men and women on the issue was also evident. Only one out of five (20 per cent) of women supported Stubbs proposal whereas almost one third (32 per cent) of men did it.

Chairperson of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK, Lauri Lyly commented on the issue in June. He stressed that thus far Finland has been built by making agreements and acting in a predictable way. Decisions made in tri-party negotiations between trade unions, employers and government should be kept and followed accordingly.

"The right to deduct trade union membership dues in income taxation is bound up with the need for a guarantee to employees by organising minimum working conditions and some kind of security for unemployment and retirement ", Lyly said.

Lyly also pointed out that membership dues entrepreneurs pay to their organisations are tax-deductible.