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Hadia Tajik: Norway’s Minister of Labour goes after tax scandal

Hadia Tajik: Norway’s Minister of Labour goes after tax scandal

| Text: Lars Ådne Bevanger, photo:

Hadia Tajik, deputy leader of Norway’s governing Labour Party, stepped down as the country’s Minister of Labour on Wednesday after revelations she failed to pay tax for a commuter flat 15 years ago while working as a political advisor at the Ministry for Labour and Social Inclusion.

Hadia Tajik has long been seen as one of the Labour Party’s shooting stars and a possible future prime minister. At 23 she became a political advisor at the Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion, and two years later she became an advisor to the then Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. 

Commuter flat confusion 

She has now stepped down as Minister of Labour in the Støre government as a result of errors she made during her first job for the Stoltenberg government. At that time, she was granted a parliamentary commuter flat, which is tax-free if you can prove to have housing expenses elsewhere.  

At first, Tajik said she did not, but later sent in fresh information about hiring a flat in her home county of Rogaland. Earlier this year, the VG newspaper revealed that Tajik did not have any expenses related to that flat and that she never lived there – she was living with her parents.

Tajik says she paid for accommodation at her parents’ and as such had not broken any taxation rules in relation to her commuter flat.

A number of Norwegian MPs have been accused of exploiting the commuter flat system, and some – including a party leader and a parliament president (speaker) – have stepped down as a result of these accusations.  

“No-one can demand trust”

Hadia Tajik has made it clear that she did not knowingly exploit the commuter flat system, but that she chose to step down because she no longer felt she had the necessary trust required for her position.

“No-one can demand trust and anyone can make mistakes, but the top boss for labour market policies, social or welfare is dependent on trust. Many others can be minister for labour. The Labour Party’s politics is the most important thing,” Tajik told a press conference, announcing her retirement from her ministerial post. 

She also said she is paying tax authorities a sum equal to what she should have paid in tax for her commuter flat. 

There are other reasons why Norwegian media have been so focused on Hadia Tajik’s relationship with commuter flat regulations.

The same rules for all

As Minister of Labour, she has been responsible for NAV – Norway’s welfare administration– which a few years ago ended up in a giant scandal that saw 80 people being incorrectly sentenced for welfare fraud. 

Several thousand welfare recipients were also wrongly asked to pay back welfare payments. It was all because parliament, the courts and the civil service had misinterpreted EEA rules on where in the EEA people are allowed to stay while receiving support. 

In Norway, as in other Nordic countries, there is a relatively high level of trust in politicians and equality before the law is a principle that is very well anchored in public opinion. Although Hadia Tajik has not been proven to break any laws, many felt she needed to take responsibility for her actions, especially because so many innocent “ordinary” people were wrongfully found guilty in the NAV case.

Party political tensions

Hadia Tajik was elected deputy leader of the Labour Party in 2015 together with her colleague Trond Giske. When he, two years later, was accused by a number of whistleblowers of sexual harassment of female party members, Tajik was strong in her support for the whistleblowers.

Party leader Jonas Gahr Støre considered the case closed after Giske publicly apologised for his behaviour, but Tajik chose to publicly continue her criticism of Giske. Støre chose to reopen the case and Giske stepped down as deputy leader on 1 January 2018. 

This battle led to a split in the Labour Party which has partly coloured the reactions to Hadia Tajik’s commuter flat problems from some within the party. A number of Trond Giske’s supporters – especially from his home county of Trøndelag – have questioned whether Tajik should carry on as deputy leader now that she has stepped down as a government minister. 

Retains the Prime Minister’s trust

But Tajik retains the Prime Minister’s trust. Jonas Gahr Støre immediately accepted her wish to step down as Minister of Labour, but has also indicated that he still wants her as deputy leader.

In maintaining that role she is still the second-most powerful person in the Labour Party. And many believe that is a more important position than being a government minister.

Hadia Tajik

informed a press conference on 2 March 2022 that she had chosen to step down in the wake of tax revelations linked to a commuter flat she had 15 years ago. Photo: 


In a letter to the Executive Board of the Labour Party on March 6,  Hadia Tajik also renounced her position as Deputy Leader. Marte Mjøs Persen was appointed Minister of Labour on Monday 7 March. She was previously Minister of oil and energy.


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