Wednesday 10/20/21

Today is Finland's Envy Day

At the beginning of November, the Finnish Tax Administration makes available to the public the data on income and taxes of individual taxpayers. The media can request a list of the richest people in the country, which dominates the news coverage.
Ilkka Paananen (left) with the Minister of Economic Affairs, Katri Kulmuni. Photo: @KatriKulmuni/Twitter.

You will not see blue and white flags waving, such as when the independence of the country or a cultural event is commemorated. However, this is for Finns one of the most anticipated days of the year. They call it in many ways: Tax Day, Jealousy Day, and also Envy Day.

This special date is celebrated on the first working day of November, when the Finnish Tax Administration (Vero) makes available to the public the data on income and taxes of individual taxpayers in the previous year.

Vero releases for the media a list of the richest in the country, which dominates news coverage, but in fact any citizen can request the income and tax data of anybody. Of course, by paying a fee. Some people use this to find out if their coworkers earn more money than they do or to know more about their neighbour's properties.

This tradition, which many Finns defend as a sign of transparency, for others it is just an expression of envy, vigilance and the constant interest of Finns in the affairs of their neighbours. In most countries this would be impossible, because laws prevent the publication of income and taxation data on individual taxpayers.

In Finland, this year for the first time more than 230 contributors have been able to request the removal of their data from the public list of the richest, under the new European data protection regulation.

Supercell dominates the ranking

According to Yle, this year the list of greatest earners published by Vero is dominated again by Ilkka Paananen, CEO of Supercell, whose combined earnings and capital revenues amounted to 110 million euros in 2018. Second in the list was Mikko Kodisoja, also a co-founder of Supercell, who got 98 million euros.

Far from the Supercell bosses, the third on the list was Heikki Kyöstilä, founder, owner and president of dental equipment company Planmeca, who made 47 million euros. Asko Myllymäki, from the construction Lehto Group, was fourth with 40 million.

One has to descend to fifth place to find the first woman on the list, Marina Severina, from the biotechnology company Hytest, who earned 36 million euros in 2018.