Oslo: Pakistani taxi drivers over-represented in tax fraud case

It should be noted that many ethnic Norwegians see nothing wrong with smuggling and tax evasion. They simply don't agree with their country's laws so they disobey them. They just disobey different laws that those the Pakistanis chose to disobey.

The Oslo tax assessment office released figures on the national background of tax evaders among taxi owners. 232 of the total 320 taxi owners, or 73%, belong to the Norwegian-Pakistani minority, while they compose only a third of taxi owners in the city.

Reactions by taxi owners were varied. "They're destroying the branch from within. This is tragic and very sad for us that act by the law", says taxi owner Geir Harstad.

"All Norwegian-Pakistanis are not scoundrels. We must not judge everyone alike. I think yet that the economic culture they come from doesn't fit with our economic culture" says Kolbjørn Grøholt.

Taxi owners are suspected of having evaded paying taxes on 400 million kroner (~50 million Euro). The two largest cases are for turnovers of respectively 20 and 18 million kroner (~2 million euro). Both these taxi owners are of Pakistani background.

Inspection chief Jan Egil Kristiansen of the Oslo tax assessment office says that there aren't many ethnic Norwegians suspect in the case and that their part is barely 10%.

He said that after seeing there were many Pakistanis involved they researched the case, and were surprised to find that a very high percent - 90% - were not ethnic Norwegian.

Khalid Mahmood, a representative in the Storting, is of Pakistani origin. He responds sharply to this information. "This is unfortunate and sad. that our minority is over-represented hits hard. At the same time, people should remember that there has been a certain pattern in the taxi industry for many years. more inspection is required and higher demands from taxi owners" says Mahmood.

Aftenposten spoke with a high-ranked police official in Pakistan. He explains that tax fraud does not seem criminal there. Pakistanis who preferred to stay anonymous told Aftenposten that they see no reason to pay taxes when the state gives them nothing.

The Norwegian ambassador in Pakistan, Janis Bjørn Kanavin confirms that the attitude to taxes is different in Pakistan and that it is a big problem to collect taxes.

When asked if he's surprised he answers: "Yes, when I asked Norwegian-Pakistanis as to why they defy the cold and winter to be in Norway, they say that they are glad to be in a land with law and order."

Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)

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