A taxing experience in Sweden

And we Americans thought the IRS was clueless sometimes.

This story from Sweden details the account of a couple versus what I dare call a recklessly obtuse Swedish Tax Agency:

When their daughter Celina was born, Morten Schneider and Christina Cruz dutifully filled out the appropriate forms with their daughters name – Celina Cruz Schneider – and sent them off to have her registered with Sweden’s tax authorities, the Sk√•nska Dagbladet newspaper reports.

But the agency rejected the name they chose for their daughter because it did not comply with a rule specifying that the child must take the mother’s surname if the parents have different surnames.

According to the rule, when parents are unmarried, and have not taken a common name, it is not possible to give the child a middle name.

The father’s surname instead becomes the child’s middle name.

Thus, in the eyes of the Tax Agency, the toddler must be called Celina Schneider Cruz.

This bizarre rule about naming children in Sweden is not only weird, but it is also outdated. It dates from an older era during which naming conventions were the only way to trace ancestry in the event of a child born out of wedlock.

Now, of course, everything has changed. Recordkeeping is now done on computers and has been for at least a decade if not a quarter-century or longer. (I’m making an educated guess here. It’s hard to imagine any major government still doing paper-based data processing as late as 1999; it’s possible but unlikely very remote areas of Sweden weren’t yet using computers by then.)

Most of the commenters on the news article seem to agree; some have used some quite unsavory names to refer to the tax office. I hope this fine (SEK 2000, or about US$268) is overturned on appeal. And, that the IRS doesn’t start taking hints from Sweden.