Opinions are divided about tekjur.is, a new website which makes the income of all Icelanders public. While labour union representatives celebrate the initiative, other individuals have filed complaints against the website with the Icelandic Data Protection Authority.
The website tekjur.is went online on October 12, and has been widely reported on in media since. “Tekjur.is publishes information on the wages of all adult individuals, with the aim of promoting informed and honest discussion about the participation of taxpayers in the public sector,” the website states.
Though the Directorate of Internal Revenue publishes a list of 40 individuals paying the highest taxes in Iceland each year, according to the data provided by tekjur.is, the list does not necessarily show the highest earners. This is because tax on capital earnings is significantly lower than income tax in Iceland, Kjarninn reports. Tekjur.is shows, for example, that six Icelanders earned more than ISK 1 billion ($8.5m/€7.4m) in capital gains in 2016, three over ISK 2 billion ($17.1m/€14.7m), and two over ISK 3 billion ($25.6m/€22.1m). At least two of those individuals were not on the Directorate of Internal Revenue’s highest taxpayers list.
Drífa Snædal, general secretary of the Federation of General and Special workers in Iceland, expressed support for the initiative to make Icelanders’ income public in a Facebook post. “In secrecy lies injustice,” she stated. “I have never understood why income should be a secret and welcome this initiative.”
The Icelandic Data Protection Authority has however received at least nine complaints from individuals about the website, including Björgvin Guðmundsson, Partner and Senior Account Manager at KOM Consulting, who calls the initiative “clearly illegal.” The Authority is considering the case though it remains unclear when a decision will be made.
Ingvar Smári Birgisson, lawyer and chairman of Young Independents (the youth organisation of the Independence Party of Iceland), filed an injunction against the website yesterday, calling it a violation of the privacy act and the handling of personal information. A notice on tekjur.is, however, states that “since the parliament has specifically authorised the publication of information from the tax register, anyone is permitted to do so.” Further information on the website says names and income information will not be removed from the site without “specific and substantive reasons.”