Newspapers also anointed capitalist heroes on Thursday.
Especially adored are the young owners of the gaming company Supercell, who declared a total of 181 million euros in taxable income this year, and were five of the 10 top-earning citizens. Supercell’s 40-year-old chief executive, Ilkka Paananen, went out of his way in 2016 to express his happiness at breaking Finland’s record for capital gains taxes, telling Helsingin Sanomat that “it is our turn to give something back.”
This, said Onni Tertsunen, a graduate student at a downtown Helsinki cafe, is the kind of rich person Finns like. “He’s really humble,” he said. “That’s the thing in Finland, to be humble. If you show it around, no one likes you.”
There are, of course, manifold other uses for income tax data. Tuomas Rimpilainen, a crime reporter, said he sometimes looked up the salaries of his professional competitors before asking his boss for a raise. (It worked.)
“I’ve looked up my relatives,” said a colleague, Markku Uhari.
“And my bosses,” Mr. Rimpilainen said.
“No one likes to admit they do it,” said another reporter, Lassi Lapintie. “But everyone has done it.”
For all the attention from the news media, strictly speaking, the release of the tax data is not really big news.
“No one really conceals their income,” Mr. Saarinen said.
“No one thinks it is conceivable that anyone would have the nerve to live in Finland and, outrageously, to avoid paying taxes,” he said. “People play by the rules, and they expect that to be the case. It’s the default.”