Finnish employee posted overseas

If you send your employee – a Finnish resident for purposes of taxation – on a foreign assignment, you must find out whether the foreign country will treat them as a taxpayer of income tax there, and if yes, you must establish whether income tax must also be paid to Finland. You and your employee may benefit from a six-month rule granting exemption from Finnish taxation. Additionally, you must establish whether your employee is going to be covered by the Finnish social security system.

Working less than six months

Shorter assignments are usually simple. If an employee from Finland works in a foreign country for a Finnish employer, their tax treatment remains as before: his or her pay is taxed in Finland if length of stay is not longer than six months. You must withhold tax at the rate printed on the employee's tax card in the usual way, pay social security and file the usual reports in Finland. The country where your employee works has no taxing rights. However, if you are treated as having a permanent establishment in that country, it may be that income tax on your employee's pay must be paid there.

If the country is Norway, Sweden, Denmark or Iceland, you must submit the NT1 information in order to inform the authorities that you, as the Finnish employer, continue to withhold tax in Finland. Starting 1 January 2019, you must file earnings payment reports to submit the required information to the Incomes Register. The due date for reporting is the fifth day counting from the first payday when you pay wages to your employee for his or her work in the other Nordic country. The NT1 information is used for ensuring that the Nordic country will not demand advance payments of income taxes from your employee.

Working six months or longer

The six-month rule

If you are a Finnish company sending a Finnish resident to work in another country, the principle known as the six-month rule may affect your tax treatment.

The wages you pay to your Finnish employee is not taxed in Finland if the following requirements are met:

  1. Provisions of the bilateral tax treaty do not restrict the taxing rights of the country where your employee works (or alternatively, no bilateral tax treaty exists).
  2. The assignment is for at least 6 months without interruption.
  3. Your employee does not come back to Finland for more than six days per month, counting the average number of days of presence per months worked.

If you come to the conclusion that the six-month rule applies to you, no Finnish withholding is necessary (with the exception of a minimum withholding, which is described in more detail under "Social security" below). You as the employer must interpret the six-month rule correctly in each case.

If you do not withhold in Finland, starting 2019 you must file an earnings payment report to inform the Incomes Register of it (giving the NT2 information). The due date for reporting is the fifth day counting from the first payday when you pay wages to your employee without withholding.

When the six-month rule is the reason for not withholding money on the employee’s pay, you must additionally file the “Employer's report of periods of stay in Finland” to inform the Incomes Register of the periods when your employee is present in Finland. Submit the report after the end of the year of payment, by end of January.

When the country where your employee works is one of the Nordic countries, you must provide the NT2 information also in the following circumstances:

  • The 6-month rule is not applicable
  • The country of work gets the taxing rights on your employee’s income
  • The exemption method is in use when any double taxation is eliminated
    In this situation, you as the employer must withhold tax unless your employee has received a revised tax card.

The e-services of the Incomes Register (tulorekisteri.fi)

Social security

We recommend that you contact the Finnish Centre for Pensions or the Social Insurance Institution (Kela) before sending your employee to the foreign country. They will tell you whether your employee remains covered by the Finnish social security system during the assignment. If yes, you must continue to pay the contributions in Finland.

If the six-month rule is applied, the base of the health insurance contribution is the amount confirmed by the social insurance institutions for this purpose (called vakuutuspalkka; försäkringslön). To cover the insured person’s health insurance contribution, you must withhold an amount known as the “minimum withholding” on your employee's pay (at the rate of 2.01% (2015)).

Taxes abroad

We recommend that you contact the tax authorities of the foreign country where your employee works. This may be especially useful in the case of building and construction work, and for any long-term contracts or assignments.

Usually there are no standard tax-related employer obligations for you to fulfil; however, the authorities of the country can give you more guidance and tell you exactly whether there are any or not. For this reason, it is a good idea to contact them. If you are deemed to have a permanent establishment in the country, it usually means that standard employer obligations will apply to you, i.e. you have to withhold tax and file reports. We recommend that you contact the foreign tax authorities early, and take care of any obligations that may arise. This will help you avoid unexpected additional expenses in the form of penalty charges that you may have to pay if you neglect to file reports, etc.