Individual tax numbers and the public Tax Number Register

Date of issue
4/30/2018
Validity
4/30/2018 - Until further notice

This is an unofficial translation. The official instruction is drafted in Finnish and Swedish languages.

1 What is a tax number?

Before a construction worker can participate in the work at the building site, he or she must be given a tax number. The number must also be registered in the public register of tax numbers. The Finnish Tax Administration's online information service allows users to check whether the registration of an individual worker's name and number is valid.

The practice involving the individual tax numbers aims to ensure that those who perform work or services at a site have been registered as taxpayers before they start working. The purpose of registration is to safeguard the integrity of name tags and to control the fulfilment of tax obligations in the construction sector, both for the sector's employers and workers.

The legal act governing the control processes that involve individual tax numbers and their registration in the construction sector is "laki veronumerosta ja rakennusalan veronumerorekisteristä (1231/2011)".

The individual tax number is a 12-character string of numbers that does not reveal the individual's age, sex or date of birth. If you work in construction and move from one site to another to continue your work, or leave your current employer and start working for another construction-sector employer, your individual tax number will not change. All employees at construction sites must have tax numbers.

To receive one requires that you have a Finnish personal identity code, which must also be registered in the Population Register Centre. Citizens of Finland receive their personal identity numbers automatically. Citizens of other countries must submit a request for their personal data to be entered in the Population Register System, and after doing this they will receive a personal identity code . You cannot get your tax number until you have completed this step.

The Tax Administration's normal practice is to issue tax numbers automatically to all natural persons who have a Finnish personal identity code. In the construction sector, they must be printed on the name tags worn by everyone who works at any construction site. They must also be registered in the public information service of the Register of Tax Numbers.

Tax numbers are generally treated as confidential information in a similar way as the facts and information about someone's taxes. For this reason, the authorities are not allowed to distribute information about tax numbers to other outside parties than to those who are entitled to it under the definition of law.

1.1 Tax numbers printed on name tags

As provided in section 52a, Occupational Safety and Health Act, the buyer of construction services who manages or controls a building site must take action to ensure that everyone who works there wears a name tag with a photo. This provision of the Act concerns shared construction sites.

Under section 2.1 of the Decree on the Safety of Construction Work, a site may be considered shared if there is more than one contractor who works at the site simultaneously or successively.

No officially required format has been specified for name tags. However, under section 52a, Occupational Safety and Health Act, they must contain the following information:

  • the worker's name
  • the worker's photograph
  • the employer's name
  • the worker's tax number, which must also be entered in the Register of Tax Numbers
  • information on whether the worker at the site is an employee on the payroll, or is a self-employed individual (=an independent contractor).

Workers are given their name tags by their employer or by the project supervisor at the site. Those who are self-employed, independent workers must take action to obtain their own name tags themselves. Some name tags at some building sites also contain the function of a pass, i.e. they are a permit for physical access to the site. People who are about to start working at a site are not entitled to begin working and to receive a pass until they have their tax number marked on their name tag with their photo.

1.2 Who must wear name tags

The obligation to wear name tags with a photo concerns everyone who works at a shared construction site, both workers and self-employed people. The latter category includes independent contractors who operate a trade or business as self-employed individuals, and shareholder-partners of various partnerships. Name tags must also be worn by those whose work is not characterised as construction work, such as office workers, cleaners and guards who work at a site. In the same way, they must be worn by teachers and students of a vocational school of the construction trades when they perform work at a building site as part of their training.

However, name tags are not required of those who are delivering goods to the site on a temporary basis unless they participate in the construction work. Name tags are also not required at a site of a private individual where a building is either being built or repaired and it is intended for the individual's private use. Name tags are not required on sites that do not coincide with the definition of "shared construction site".

The site's project supervisor, together with the buyer (=the commissioning party), must make sure that everyone who works at the site wears a name tag as required by the provisions of section 52 a, Occupational Health and Safety Act. In addition, the employers present at the site must make sure their workers and their contracting partners wear the tags. As provided in section 63, Occupational Health and Safety Act, buyers, commissioning parties, project supervisors and employers who have not enforced the requirement to wear name tags may sentenced to a fine for violation.

The controlling public authorities regarding the use of name tags are those in charge of occupational safety and health. For more information on how name tags must be worn and how employers should oversee their constant use, visit www.tyosuojelu.fi.

1.3 Definition of "construction site"

If a site falls within the scope of application of the Decree on the Safety of Construction Work (asetus rakennustyön turvallisuudesta, 205/2009), it is a construction site (=building site). The text of section 1 of the Decree contains the following definition of what construction and building is:

Work relating to new buildings, renovations and maintenance of a building and other structure that takes place under or above the ground, or in the water, and related installation, demolition, earthwork, hydraulic engineering and construction design.

The Decree is also applied on the preparation and planning of a construction project relating to such work.

From this follows that repair and construction work relating to a unit of real estate must be treated as construction. Real estate property means an area of land, a building and a permanent structure, or some part thereof. Structures built for permanent use means bridges, piers, jetties, networks for the distribution of electric power, water, heating and networks for telecommunications. Construction work means both the construction of buildings and the construction of civil engineering objects, and objects in under water.

Construction of buildings covers all kinds of buildings and structures, repair work, major improvements, alterations, extensions, renovations, installation work relating to a building (such as electrical, insulation, heating, water piping, air conditioning, elevator systems, control and alarm systems), finishing work relating to a building (special carpentry work, finishing of walls and floors, paint jobs, glazing jobs, rendering), offering the service of building machinery and equipment for rent (with a driver/operator), setup of fences and scaffolds.

Civil engineering covers earthwork, work in the water, the groundbreaking for a new building, demolition work, cleaning at building sites, transportation systems (to build roads, streets, railways, airports; to dredge the bottom of the sea for maritime passages), networks (utilities, water, electric power, heating, gas, sewage, IT) and the construction of other environmental objects and structures on land (bridges, piers and jetties).

For more information on definitions, see the Tax Administration's guidance on the information-reporting requirement in the construction industry, section 3 and the website of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (www.tyosuojelu.fi) where the following materials (in Finnish) can be read: "Construction work, Shared sites"––Rakennustyö ja yhteinen rakennustyömaa ja "Further information on name tags, on the required recordkeeping and on shared sites"––Lisäkysymykset tunnisteisiin, luetteloon ja yhteiseen rakennustyömaahan liittyen.

2 The Tax Administration as the issuer of personal identity codes and individual tax numbers

To get a tax number requires that you have a Finnish personal identity code. For this reason, if you are a foreign national who arrives in Finland, you must submit a request for a Finnish personal identity code (unless you have one already). With the personal identity code, you will automatically be assigned a tax number as well.

Finnish personal identity codes are normally issued to people from other countries when their personal details are added to the Population Information System, which is maintained, by the Population Register Centre and local register offices. Foreign citizens may get the code if they visit the Local Register Office in person, in the district where they are living, or from an office of another authority that grants the codes.

The Tax Administration has a similar mandate as the local register office to issue personal identity codes to foreign citizens who arrive in Finland to work. The Tax Administration enters a number of details in the Population Information Register including the usual personal details: full name, date of birth, gender, place of birth, address, citizenship, native language and occupation. The Tax Administration will also ask you for other details needed for taxation, such as information about your employer or client, the length of your stay and employment in Finland, your wages or income and the type of your contract (i.e. whether you are a leased employee, self-employed, or have an employment contract).

When all the details are recorded, you receive the personal identity code. You will also be given a document where your individual tax number is printed. It may be a tax card, tax-at-source card or a specific certificate that indicates the individual tax number. The Tax Administration enters your tax number in the Register of Tax Numbers if you are a construction worker or if you work at a construction site in some other occupation.

You cannot get the name tag from your employer or project supervisor of the site where you work until this step is complete. With the name tag, you also get the right to work at the site.

You must visit the tax office in person. If you do not, the personal identity code cannot be issued to you. For more information about applying for a personal identity code, see the instruction Finnish personal identity codes for workers arriving in Finland. The instruction also contains a list of the Tax Administration's offices that issue personal identity codes.

3 Public Tax Number register in the construction sector

Public register of Tax Numbers is an online search site with no login requirement. Users can visit it in order to check any construction worker's registration information. To perform a search, you must type the worker's first and last name – and also their tax number. The search does not work if you only type in a name, or only type in a number. The search only returns a yes or no answer, i.e. it only tells you whether the individual worker's name and tax number are currently registered. No other information is displayed (i.e. no personal data such as their personal identity code etc.).

3.1 Having the tax number registered

The fact that the Tax Administration has issued a worker a tax number does not mean that registration is in force. The Tax Administration enters your tax number in the Register of Tax Numbers if you request it. Requests are made by the worker, their employer or the site's project supervisor. In addition, the Tax Administration may also enter individuals in the register on its own initiative.

Employers can request their employees' Tax Numbers on a centralised basis by sending a computer file containing their employees' personal identity codes to the Tax Administration. The employer can also request the Tax Administration to enter the workers in the public register when sending the file to the tax office. For more information on how to send off the file and the online request, see Tax Number.

3.2 Removal from the register

Under the provisions of section 6 of the Act governing the tax numbers and their registration within the construction sector, the relevant authorities may delete a worker's personal information from the Register if the worker asks for this. The worker must provide a statement that he or she no longer works in construction. For example, they may have moved on to work for an employer outside the construction industry.

A new sub-section has been added as section 6.2 and is applicable starting 1 May 2018: The Finnish Tax Administration may, on its initiative, delete someone's information from the Register if two years have elapsed and no employee details (of the construction sector), within the meaning of section 15 b, Act on Assessment Procedure, have been given to the Tax Administration. The Tax Administration does not send the worker any notifications of the de-registration. Users may perform a search in the public records of the Register in order to check whether an individual worker's registration is in force.

De-registration cannot be carried out on the request of any other parties than those discussed above. This means that employers or project supervisors of a construction site are not entitled to submit a request for de-registration of a construction worker/employee. A tax number is given to each taxpayer personally, and the primary party for whom the tax number is important is the employee. Consequently, the employee is the only party who can give an opinion on whether or not the registration of the tax number will continue to be necessary in the future – this rule should be applied e.g. in situations where a worker's employment contract has terminated.

On request, the Tax Administration can re-enter a taxpayer's information in the Register. Tax numbers are permanent: if someone's information is re-entered, the old number will be used because it does not change to a different one.

4 Information-reporting requirement in the construction sector

In addition to the control processes that involve the tax numbers and their public registration, the businesses active in the construction sector must also file reports to the Tax Administration every month. This requirement concerns activities related to construction, repairs and maintenance at a construction site, and all the businesses and employees engaging in such activities.

The buyer of construction work must give details on all the contractors and contracts of a site. In a subcontracting chain, each customer/buyer, for their part, is required to file reports on their subcontractors. The reporting requirement concerns construction services within the meaning of the VAT Act, services involving setup and dismantling of scaffolding when this relates to construction, and services of providing leased employees to work in construction.

The person or business treated as the site's project supervisor must send the Tax Administration information on all workers and all other paid operators. All subcontractor companies and other businesses present at a shared construction site must give their employee details to the project supervisor.

Guidance for reporting: Information-reporting requirement in the construction sector.