26 November 2010

This is Pure Garbage

Interiors: Work Station Redux
My office.

This is madness. The city in which I live - Frederiksberg - has sent a bill for 1635 kroner [€219] to me. I have a company and companies must now pay a so-called Business Garbage Fee [Erhvervsaffaldgebyr].

Firstly, it is rather simple to start companies in Denmark, which is a good-thing. Anyone can start a one-person company free of charge and it only takes a day or so. Many freelancers have a company and many people have a company in addition to being a wage-earner.

Most of these small companies are run from home, including mine. Meetings are held at cafés or at other peoples offices. When I work with other people, our companies bill each other for services rendered. In my case, if I am on a photo shoot or making a film, I am out on location. When I am at home, in my 'office' [pictured above], things are pretty much 'garbage-free'.

I simply don't generate any garbage in my company. Totally and purely environmentally-friendly.

I applied for dispensation to be excused from the fee. To my amazement, my application was rejected in an email recieved today:

Vi har gennemgået jeres ansøgning om fritagelse af erhvervsaffaldsgebyret.

Virksomheden opfylder IKKE kriterierne for fritagelse. Ansøgningen om fritagelse afvises derfor.

Frederiksberg Kommune skal i hver enkelt sag vurdere, om der er grundlag for fritagelse efter Affaldsbekendtgørelsens § 60, stk. 5 (ingen egentlig affaldsproduktion). Frederiksberg Kommune betragter som udgangspunkt alle aktive virksomheder som affaldsproducerende, idet det normalt ikke vil være muligt at drive virksomhed helt uden restprodukter eller kasserede produkter, som fx papir, plast, pap, glas, metal, madrester, tømte malerbøtter, sprayflasker, elektronisk udstyr, batterier eller træ. Det er derfor yderst få virksomheder, hvor kommunen vurderer, at der kan være grundlag for en fritagelse efter § 60, stk. 5, fx virksomheder lukket inden gebyropkrævningen i 2010.

Din virksomhed vil modtage girokort til opkrævning af erhvervsaffaldsgebyr i december 2010.

Denne afgørelse kan ikke påklages til anden administrativ myndighed, jf. affaldsbekendtgørelsens § 101. Hvis man mener, at kommunen ikke overholder gældende lovgivning, kan sagen indbringes for statsforvaltningen i den region, hvori kommunen er beliggende. Statsforvaltningen beslutter selv, om der er tilstrækkeligt grundlag for at rejse en tilsynssag, jf. § 48 a i den kommunale styrelseslov. Man kan også gå til domstolene med sin sag.

On the website it says that you can apply for exclusion if your company:
- Made less than 50,000 kroner in 2008.
- You can document that you handle your own garbage disposal.
- You don't generate garbage in your company.

But then in the rejection email it basically says that the City of Frederiksberg doesn't believe it's possible for a company NOT to generate garbage. Which makes the whole application process a joke. They are convinced that ALL companies generate garbage like paper, plastic, cardboard, glass, metal, foodstuffs, empty paint cans, spraycans, electronics, batteries or wood.

The email also says that you cannot appeal the decision. Madness.

I don't produce garbage. I have a printer with refillable cartridges so I don't dispose of those. I am environmentally aware enough to only print documents that I need and I don't throw them out. My entire business is internet-based or involves public speaking in locations outside my home. Again, no garbage produced by me there.

I don't produce any electronic waste, wood, spray cans, cardboard, plastic, metal, foodstuffs, empty paint cans or batteries. I don't own a car and use a bicycle to get around.

You know what I am?

I'm grade A, Mr. Fucking Environmentally-Friendly Company. Kissing the planet with the tongue, using a condom AND remembering to call her the next day.

And I can prove it.

I'm all for environmentally-minded fees but inflexible ones like this that slap the small businesses in the face are just ridiculous.

I called Hans from Larry vs Harry and suggested I move my business to his address in Copenhagen, and share his office, to escape from this madness. He said that it was the same in Copenhagen. And added that he learned that 70% [SEVENTY PERCENT] of the fee goes to administration. Christ.

Anybody in Copenhagen know of a county nearby that doesn't have these fees? I'd like to move my company there. Have bicycle, will travel.

Here's the Kafka-esque website from the City of Frederiksberg, in Danish.


Anonymous said...

There are two things which will always catch up with you in the end: Death and taxes, neither are always fair...

kdt said...

So you can go to the "State Administration" whatever that is, or to court. I'm wondering if there might not be a group of 'virtual' businesses such as yours that would be able to get together on a petition or court case. In any case, you clearly -- as in most things in life -- want a good lawyer by your side.

Classic Copenhagen said...

It is high grade bullshit! I got one too, and it states that part of the fee goes to pay for your access to recycling stations. That part you should at least be able to get out of. But then it may be different on Frederiksberg. I went online to get an exemption, and was informed that I got the bill by a mistake (although I too work from my miniscule home office). Whaddayaknow.

Anonymous said...

You could try Toronto. But then we're not very bicycle friendly are we? Given a chose, I'd pay the tax and stay in the bicycle friendly city. Alas, I don't have a choice. >sigh<

Mikael said...

indeed, there must be many of these small companies who exist without generating anything but regular income and the usual taxes and who don't fancy paying this fee.

good to know that exemptions are possible, sandra. or at least that Copenhagen city is (perhaps) more fair.

Neil said...

Can't appeal? Obviously I'm unfamiliar with Danish laws, but it seems hard to believe that there's no appealing to reason.

Around here, the state simply can't impose a fee or fine without there being some way to have your day in court. An administration without a judicial check seems, well, undemocratic.

Kükü said...

Hans has a secret cellar, under his design desk. The authority will not find you there. :)
But you will surly find some garbage there. :) (sorry Hans:)

Kuku from Budapest

Frits B said...

If this makes you any happier: the same system exists in the Netherlands. Households pay a fixed fee (depending on the number of family members) for collection of their garbage by the municipality. Companies in any form have the choice of contracting a private garbage collector or use the municipal services; in the latter case a fixed fee applies. And yes, the official assumption is that a home office creates extra garbage.

brad said...

Just suck it up and pay the tax. It won't break you, and it might just help you feel more akin to those drivers who have to pay road taxes but feel like cyclists are getting off scott free.

Taxes are patriotic, forward thinking, and are the price of civilization. Complaining about them just makes you sound like a Republican/Tea Partier and the fewer of those in the world, the better.

philippe said...

Just stirring the pot, but, ahem, don't you fly a lot for your business, oh, bike riding earth friendly entrepreneur ?
(for the record, I think planes and long trips are great...)

Mikael said...

the city tax doesn't have anything to do with flying. sure, I fly alot but i do so on the world's greenest airline wherever possible.

i'm all for taxes, especially environmental ones. I pay upwards of 60% in taxes and am happy to do so.

but when they don't make sense and affect small business owners, then I'm happy to state my opinion.

Edward said...

On a different topic, you have a very cool-looking office.

Glenn said...


"World's Greenest airline". Is that like "world's friendliest genocidal maniac"? Offsets do not a sustainable world make.

I agree about the garbage fee though. Don't know how they normally charge for garbage in your town, but it seems charging by the kilo or cubic meter would be the most reasonable...


Marrowstone Island

tdoornbos said...

Sorry to get off-topic, but I am wildly in love the with that office, specifically the stool. Any chance you'd like to share who makes it?

Trolly said...

Well, this is the flip side for living in your uberplanned Europaradise, isn't it? Bureaucracies have this way of being, well, bureaucratic.

William said...

There's only one thing to do, then.
Read through all of this: "https://www.retsinformation.dk/Forms/R0710.aspx?id=129843", and determine if the rules, as they have been applied to you, are different from the law, as published.
For example, if your only waste is printouts, and you've used recyclable paper, you can argue that, according to chapter 3, §4, stk 5, pt 1-5 what you've produced is no longer waste, but a resource.
Also, chapter 6, §24 stk.2 "does not apply to sorted, recyclable waste".
Also, since there's now a requirement in the law that Frederiksberg /must/ supply collection services for metal and plastic (§30&31), you can badger them in return.

Also, §42, "The kommune must allow opt-out, if the company can show they handle their own waste in a satisfactory manner"

Best of luck.

Mikael said...

The stool is by Dulton Co. Ltd. Designed by Yasu Saramoto (maybe Sabamoto, hard to read)

Thanks, William!

Mikael said...

and hello Tea Party Trolly! Long time no whine! :-)

Sirius7dk said...

The government has just decided to change the law so it is now voluntarily if you want to pay :)

Read here: http://epn.dk/samfund/politik/article2265437.ece

Rasmus Jensen

Anonymous said...