The financial journal Frjáls Verslun recently published its annual list of Iceland’s highest paid taxpayers, compiled from public information available in tax registers.

No. 1 on this year’s list is Björn Erlingl Jonasson, former owner of the shipping company Valafell ehf., which he owned with his wife Christina Wiggsdottir. Most of the taxes paid, a total of 692 million ISK 689 million, came from his sale of Valafell to KG Fiskverkun.

Another notable member of Iceland’s “tax lord” is Haraldur Þorleifsson, the former owner of the tech company Ueno, which he sold to Twitter in 2021. Haraldur paid ISK 592 million in taxes on the sale, making him the highest tax payer in Reykjavik. However, this honorable position was taken over by choice, with Haraldur negotiating to pay taxes in Iceland at the time of sale, with the majority of the sale being paid with wages.

With this choice, wages are taxed at a 46% rate while capital gains income is taxed at a much lower rate of 22% in Iceland, thus classifying realized profits at a much higher rate. . Haraldur is an activist for improving accessibility for people with disabilities in public spaces and said in an interview with Stundin that he is happy to give back to the society that provided him with his education.

However, the Haraldur is not the highest earner in Iceland despite paying the highest amount of tax. Standin criticizes the list for giving an incomplete picture of wealth and inequality in Iceland. income, thereby masking Iceland’s true center of wealth.

For example, the annual list places many CEOs of Icelandic shipping companies relatively low. However, their total financial assets often represent figures in the hundreds of millions of ISK. It can be said that the list presents an incomplete view of income in Iceland, as these sources of income are taxed at much lower rates.

Similarly, tax reports only include personal income. Many high-income people in Iceland, such as artists, lawyers, and businessmen, derive the majority of their income through partnerships, cooperatives, and other organizations registered as separate tax entities.

The annual list also reveals gender imbalances in the country’s upper income brackets. The first woman on the list, Christine Guðliðr Johansdottir, is number 21. She is the only woman among the top 50 highest earners in Iceland.

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