Prime Minister Sanna Marin says she will return to taxpayers the more than 14,000 euros she and her family enjoyed in the form of meal benefits at the official residence of Kesäranta from the start of her mandate.
The case is known in Finland as 'aamiaisgate' or 'breakfastgate'.
Marin promised to reimburse these benefits "in full" in a tweet sent from her iPhone on Thursday evening, shortly after it was published that the Finnish Tax Administration (Vero) cast doubt on the legality of those benefits.
The tax authority also said that the meal benefits have to be taxed. Therefore, even if the investigation concluded that these benefits are legal, the Prime Minister will have to modify her tax declaration and add those benefits to her salary, which is more than 17,000 euros per month.
On Thursday, Vero emphasized that there is no indication or justification in the law, in its memorandums or in the jurisprudence that allows the catering services enjoyed by the Prime Minister and her family to fit within the tax-exempt housing benefit.
This statement casts many doubts on the legality of the procedures applied by the Prime Minister's Office, which are now under police investigation.
845 euros per month
According to the information published so far, between January 2020 and May 2021, a total amount of 14,363.20 euros was paid with public money for breakfasts and other meals for the Prime Minister and her family at the official residence of Kesäranta.
The amount is equivalent to an average of 845 euros per month in meal benefits, which were never declared or taxed.
The Prime Minister's Office has repeatedly invoked Section 6 of the Act on Ministers' Pay and Allowances and interpreted the catering benefits as part of the Prime Minister's housing benefits.
However, in this section there is no mention of the payment of food benefits, at least in its literal wording, as the police said when they announced the opening of the investigation.