Finland is expecting a ten-fold increase in the number of refugees arriving this year. To help cover the extra costs, the country’s richest will be expected to pay a “solidarity tax” under a new proposal.
The center-right government announced the proposal on Thursday (Sept. 10), which raises the highest bracket of capital gains tax by 1%. Around 3,600 refugees sought asylum in Finland last year, but the number is expected to jump to 30,000 this year. The large influx of refugees is estimated to cost around €114 million ($128 million) this year alone. So, those earning more than €72,300 ($81,000) will be expected to pay a “solidarity tax” for two years. The government lowered this income threshold from €90,000 euros ($101,000).
Finland’s prime minister, Juha Sipilä, hopes his country will set an example as Europe’s refugee crisis grows. He’s even offered to shelter displaced refugees in his own home. Following in Sipilä footsteps, Finnish central bank chief Erkki Liikanen announced he would donate a month’s salary—€10,000 ($11,200)—to help the most vulnerable.
Though Scandinavia has been divided on how to respond to the refugee crisis, a range of voluntary initiatives have recently popped up. Norwegian billionaire Petter Stordalen has offered to house refugees in his hotel chain, Nordic choice hotels. Stordalen said he has already taken in 50 refugees in the last week and promised to provide 5,000 free nights to those who need it.
A part of our culture is to contribute, so we are giving 5,000 free night stays to refugees that need it.
Little of that sympathy can be found in Europe’s former Soviet block. Hundreds of people in Latvia and Estonia protested their government’s plan to receive 250 and 150 refugees respectively. Eastern European countries have been the most resistant to plans to redistribute refugees evenly across the EU.
In Hungary, thousands of refugees and asylum seekers trying to travel through to Western Europe have been held in squalid conditions, according to Human Rights Watch. In the latest incident to provoke international outrage, videos have shown Hungarian police throwing food at crowds of refugees.