Sweden With Another Good Idea

The gradual chipping away at our massive environmental problem continues with Sweden coming in with a great idea. They are now going to give tax breaks to people who actually fix things, rather than just throw them away.

The Swedish government is introducing tax breaks on repairs to everything from bicycles to washing machines so it will no longer make sense to throw out old or broken items and buy new ones.

Sweden’s ruling Social Democrat and Green party coalition is set to submit proposals to parliament on Tuesday to slash the VAT rate on repairs to bicycles, clothes and shoes from 25% to 12%.

It will also submit a proposal that would allow people to claim back from income tax half of the labour cost on repairs to appliances such as fridges, ovens, dishwashers and washing machines.

He hopes the tax break on appliances will spur the creation of a new home-repairs service industry, providing much-needed jobs for new immigrants who lack formal education.


For decades, Italy has had tax breaks for people who make artisinal things, in an effort to not lose the craftsmanship that made Italy famous for so long in the face of giant chain stores. But tax breaks for fixing things? That’s genius.

The constant throwing away of perfectly good things has always rubbed me the wrong way. If this law will actually put a dent in that, and create jobs? I am all for it, and I hope that other countries will do the same. After all, laws banning supermarkets from throwing away food, rather making them donate it has spread across many countries in Europe too, let’s hope this one does the same.


  1. mordred says

    A good idea. Reminds me of one of the earlier (mid 90s) proposals for carbon tax here in Germany. The plan was to use the income from the new tax to reduce cost of labor, so producing and transporting new things get’s more expensive while at the same time repairing them get’s cheaper.

    The latter part was never implemented of course.

  2. says

    May encourage the production of more things that need to be repaired.

    I always thought it telling that Scott Adam’s reaction to bug-bounties in code was to have dogbert say: “Look, I just coded myself a new minivan.”

  3. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To OP
    Politely, this isn’t addressing a real problem. Landfill land use is not a problem. We’re not running low on raw materials. I’m not necessarily opposed to this measure, but it’s not helping our environmental problems. To help fix our CO2 problem, we need a worldwide flat CO2 emissions tax (maybe with adjustments by country). F cap and trade – it’s a scheme to make bankers rich without doing anything. Also, fix conventional nuclear fission reactor regulations and licensing, and spend lots of government money on building out nuclear like France did, and spend lots of government money on building commercial-scale proof of concepts for ready next-gen reactors like IFR aka S-PRISM and a good MSR like ThorCon, plus some more money to a breeder molten salt, such as LFTR.

  4. says

    Not a bad idea, though I do note that sometimes there could be pros to replacing appliances if one is replacing an appliance with one that is more efficient. The question would then be “Do the pros outweigh the cons?” and it could be a slight problem to have something like this giving weight to the cons side as that could then defeat the purpose of the tax break if it results in one choosing to repair an old inefficient appliance when one would otherwise choose getting the new efficient appliance if not for said tax break.

    • says

      But, I guess, now that I think about this a little more after posting, I suppose the reason I think it is “not a bad idea” is because we Americans* live in a society where the choice is too often to get something new, even when repairing would be the better choice. So, overall, this could bring the trend in a better direction even if it would not always produce the correct result. (To put this another way, if it were already the case that people correctly repaired items as opposed to replacing them when they should, this would not be a good idea as it could lead people to repair when they actually should replace. But, since we seem to be nowhere close to that situation, it is an overall good idea.)

      * Let’s also be clear I have no idea how Swedish society may differ in this regard.

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