In her political youth, Mona Sahlin, today's head of the Social Democrats, described filling out Swedish tax declaration forms as "fun." Maybe this is why she allegedly missed some rather obvious sources of taxable "cost-benefits" that ultimately, although temporarily*, in the mid 1990s, cost her the election to the chair of the party... Be that as it may: Those with similar preferences for paperwork for paying money to politicians were thrilled last Tuesday when the Swedish tax authority, Skatteverket (formerly Riksskatteverket - RSV, and the equivalence of the IRS) opened their doors for filing 2010 declarations.

Simultaneously activating their Internet site for declarations, the agency also began mailing 7,388,461 plastic wrapped, personalized tax packages that included basic forms and individuals' income and other financial information. For eager taxpayers seeking further fine print and instructions and an extensive array of tax matters, the bureau's site on the Internet stands prepared to provide downloads.

Sadly, the tax paying services and information, although mostly available in English and other languages, applies only to Swedish citizens, residents, companies and, in some instances, foreigners who had financial affairs in Sweden during 2009. All others, even American citizens, are excluded from participating in the "fun" of this annual Swedish tradition.

"My best advice to anyone who is going to declare is to file on the Internet. It is easier and avoids many errors, such as when one has sold stocks or properties. Be in good time if you have complex statements and questions or need help," advises Ingemar Hansson, director general at the Skatteverket. An electronic identification, available free from many Swedish banks, is needed to declare directly on the Internet.

All forms being mailed by Skatteverket should reach Swedish taxpayers by April 15, and declarations need to be filed at their offices or drop off locations no later than midnight, May 3.

"Wage and salary earners and pensioners who declare via the Internet, SMS or telephone and have specified their bank account number can receive their tax refunds before midsummer," added Tommy Carlsson, tax director for RSV, which also issues Swedish identification cards.

* Sahlin was elected new leader of the Social Democratic Party on March 17, 2007, succeeding Göran Persson.

The Swedish Tax authorities, Skatteverket :