Doing business in Norway – reporting obligations

Failure to comply with tax reporting obligations related to non-Norwegian corporations conducting business activities in Norway may imply severe consequences.

1          Introduction

VISMA assists various multinationals with the establishing of business operations in Norway. When it comes to reporting and compliance obligations our clients normally focus on the obligations related to Norwegian VAT, corporate tax, accounting and payroll issues related to having employees in Norway, since these are important issues in other jurisdictions.

2          Reporting of contracts to non-Norwegian contractors and their employees

In order for the Norwegian tax authorities to be informed of foreign corporations and employees working in Norway, a sophisticated tax reporting regime has been developed since 1978.

This particular regime is not that well known for foreign corporations, but nevertheless important to comply with. Basically the regime implies the filing of reports to the Central Office – Foreign Tax Affairs (“COFTA”) in Stavanger.

The reporting obligation implies that all contracts and any subcontracts awarded to foreign contractors must be reported to COFTA provided that the work is performed:

  • on a site for building or assembly work in Norway, or
  • on a site that is under the client’s control in Norway, or
  • on the Norwegian continental shelf.

The obligation to report applies to contracts awarded by Norwegian and foreign private owned businesses as well as by the public sector. In a chain of contracts the parties are obliged to report about foreign contractors or subcontractors and their foreign employees anywhere in the contract chain below the reporter. Thus, in a contract chain one and the same foreign subcontractor or employee may be reported several times.

The filing is made on the form “RF-1199, Information about contracts, contractors and employees”.

The information must be reported irrespective of whether the contractor(s) or the employee(s) are subject to tax in Norway. The reporter is obliged to file the form no later than 14 days after the employee’s first working day on the assignment. Finally, the reporting obligation is also triggered when the employee leaves Norway.

3          Sanctions for non-compliance

There are number of sanctions available for the tax office for non-compliance of the reporting obligations. Most important are:

  • COFTA may levy late filing fines of for non-compliance of NOK 150 per day with a ceiling of NOK 75 000 per contractor or subcontractor and NOK 30 per day with a ceiling of NOK 15 000 per employee.
  • Failure to report may result in a liability to pay the assessed tax, employer social security contribution or the salary withholding tax that otherwise should have been paid by the subcontractor, etc.

4          The reporting regime and EU/EEA rules

Norway is a member of the European Economic Area (“EEA”) Agreement which implies that Norway must adhere to the fundamental principles of EU law, including the “Four Freedoms” i.e. free cross border movement of goods, capital, services and persons.

The COFTA-reporting regime does not apply to contracts awarded Norwegian contractors, and thus EU contractors should be regarded as discriminated. Our view is thus that the reporting obligations, and in any case the imposing of sanctions should be regarded as violations of the Norwegian obligations according to the EEA-agreement. However, so far we are not aware that the reporting regime has been tested.

 

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For further information see our website

or contact:

Martin Wikborg, lawyer
Direct +47 98 20 62 42
martin.wikborg@visma.com

Visma Advokater AS
Dronning Eufemias gate 16
P.O. Box 342 Sentrum
0101 Oslo
Norway

Visit one of the following pages for more information on doing business in Norway:

Establish a business in Norway

Tax in Norway

VAT in Norway

Work in Norway

Expats

Labour law

Legal Assistance

Payroll in Norway

Tax return

Martin is a lawyer and partner in Visma Advokater and is a specialist on tax and corporate law. He has thorough knowledge in the field after working for more than 25 years i.a. with the Norwegian Ministry of Finance and as a tax partner of Ernst & Young. Martin has advised a large number of Norwegian and multinational corporations on basically all aspects of Norwegian international tax matters, e.g. permanent establishment, transfer pricing, repatriation of profits, reorganizations, merger & acquisition and expatriate taxation.
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