Headlines 2014

Unique tax project completed


At a research seminar Michael Stenkula, IFN, presented the last component of the first systematic survey of the Swedish tax system – from 1862 to the present day. He showed how the Swedish tax system and its structure has been the subject of transformation and radical changes over the past 150 years. Tax structure and its impact on the economy were, for example, completely different 150 years ago. "1862 you paid one percent in national income tax. The proportion was gradually increased thereafter and temporary taxes [for example, those imposed during the two World Wars] became permanent in due time," explained Michael Stenkula.

Michael Stenkula presented IFN's historic tax project. In addition to Stenkula himself, the following researchers have participated in the project: Gunnar Du Rietz, Dan Johansson, Magnus Henrekson and Daniel Waldenström.


The tax project for the period 1862 to present day has resulted in eight working papers, four articles accepted for publication in scientific journals (and one awaiting assessment), and a book that will be published next year in the United States. The project mapped the tax system and its development with a long-term perspective. It also analyzed the function of taxes and how these affected the economy in general, and in particular the structure, development and organization of the industry.

“Today we have a completely different composition of taxes compared to 1862,” said Stenkula.

In 1862 duties accounted for a large part of consumption taxation. Today it's mostly about taxation of energy and the environment.

Today a tax on sugar is being discussed. We used to have a sugar tax, but it was constructed as a tax on production. This tax was in use from the 1880s until the late 1920s - and then for a short time during World War II. The motif for this duty was to tax the profitable sugar industry.

In the IFN historic tax project the following areas of taxation have been studied:

View Michael Stenkulas power point presentation

Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Grevgatan 34 - 2 fl, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden | Phone: +46-(0)8-665 45 00 | info@ifn.se