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How far will the Danish government go to collect SU repayment?

According to our inquiries, the tax authorities are (so far) not going through the gates of hell to get back their money

Many EU students were recently asked to repay their SU study grants after being informed that they were ineligible. It has left many wondering how they will repay the debt which accrues high interest.

But for some, the question arises, what happens if I just … don’t pay?

EU students doing a degree in Denmark are eligible for the SU study grant if they obtain a so-called ‘equal status’ by working 10-12 hours per week for a Danish employer and earning a taxable income. It is the student’s own responsibility to report if they fail to meet this requirement by failing to work the requisite amount of hours. The Danish Agency of Higher Education also checks up on students once a month, according to Peter Nielsen from the Danish Agency of Higher Education.

Read more: SU for international students – how to apply

“When we find out that a student is no longer working the required amount of time per week, we write a letter, asking the student to account for his or her employment. If they can’t provide documentation for their employment, we send them a claim for repayment (tilbagebetalingskrav). And then it is a case for the State Administration” says Peter Nielsen, referring to the government’s office.

Don’t worry, the tax authority will wait

The student can then arrange to pay back the debt with the State Administration. In the event that a student does not pay, it becomes a matter for SKAT, (The Danish Taxation Authority), who then send a letter requesting payment.

If the student fails to reply and pay back the money, SKAT collects the money directly through taxes on the person’s income or other assets. The procedure is effectively the same as repaying taxes.

But what if the student does not have an income or any other assets that can be taxed? Well. Then SKAT will simply wait until the student begins to earn an income.

If students leave Denmark, then…

However SKAT is effectively unable to get the student to repay the debt if the student doesn’t earn an income in Denmark.

If the student leaves Denmark to earn an income in another country, SKAT’s mode of recourse is to send a letter.

“A letter requesting payment will be sent if there is a known address for the student in the foreign country. SKAT does not have any means of forcing a payment when the student settles in another country,” the tax authority SKAT confirms in an e-mail to the University Post.

Don’t let this give you any bright ideas. The taxman is not stupid. Denmark is apparently working on an agreement that will allow assets to be tracked across EU member states.

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