Two massive aluminium companies, Alcoa and Norðurál (owned by Century Aluminum), pay little or no income tax in Iceland, RÚV reports. Instead, the multinational corporations funnel funds abroad, thanks in part to Icelandic laws that facilitate the lowering or elimination of local taxation. The avoidance of these two aluminium giants is made possible by complicated chains of ownership. All financial dealings of Alcoa are routed through affiliates in Luxembourg, while the finances of Norðurál are processed via its parent company in Delaware, in the U.S. The operations in Iceland are apparently run on a loan from the parent companies abroad, so the Iceland-based companies are permitted to deduct the loan repayments they make to their own parent companies annually before determining they local annual income. This brings the taxable income of Alcoa and Norðurál to next to nothing. A feature on the two smelters on Kastljós earlier this week revealed that Alcoa, which has been operating in Iceland for 16 years, has not paid taxes at what would be the appropriate rate since 2003 and have a tax credit to look forward to next year. The IMF has advised Iceland that the tax laws currently being exploited by Alcoa and Norðurál need to change. With the activities of Alcoa and Norðurál (as well as the power systems that support the energy-demanding smelting they undertake) impacting Icelandic nature to such a large degree, one might ask what is the benefit of having these companies operating in Iceland if there isn’t even a financial payoff.
A tourist operator stumbled across a family wandering around on Langjökull glacier yesterday. Langjökull is quite dangerous for those unfamiliar with the area and has whirlpools reaching 100-200 metres down into the glacier. “I asked [the father] what he was doing,” the director of ICE Explorer, Arngrímur Hermannsson, told RÚV. “He answered: Am I maybe doing something I shouldn’t be doing?” The family of five, two adults and three children, had driven onto the glacier in a rented car and on roads typically used by tour companies driving eight-wheelers equipped for extreme weather. “This is the best way to get on Langjökull glacier and
Intense earthquake activity continues around Bárðarbunga volcano and Vatnajökull glacier, reports RÚV. Just passed midnight an earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale hit Bárðarbunga and an earthquake measuring 4.5 hit Askja caldera, the largest quake in Askja since 1992. An additional two strong earthquakes hit Bárðarbunga around 3 am. Seismic activity has been intensifying further in the past few days due to pressure changes resulting from the movement of magma, which is now making its way to the Askja caldera. Almost 500 earthquakes were measured last night overall. According to the Met Office, going forward there are three possible outcomes. The first
Former Mayor of Reykjavík Jón Gnarr plans to appeal a decision by the National Registry which prevents him from changing his legal name to Jón Gnarr. Vísir reports that Jón recently filed a formal request with the National Registry to change his name from Jón Gnarr Kristinsson to just Jón Gnarr, as he has been known for decades. The Registry rejected the request, saying in part that “it is illegal to take up a new surname in Iceland.” Jón says that this is not true in practice, pointing out that foreigners who receive Icelandic citizenship are allowed to keep their
A group of Icelanders hopes to educate the general public on how to avoid buying products from Israel. DV reports that the group, called BDS Ísland, hopes to bring to light which Icelandic companies are importing and selling Israeli goods. The “BDS” in the group’s name stands for “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions”. The movement is an extension of the Facebook group “We don’t buy products from Israel”, wherein Icelanders post Israeli goods that they find on store shelves here in Iceland. Sema Erla Serdar, the chairperson of BDS Ísland, hopes to assemble and organise this information, and then make it more
Interior Minister Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir reportedly threatened the former police commissioner with an investigation of her own, and her assistants tried to influence his statements to the press. This and more has come to light in a new letter from the Parliamentary Ombudsman. Parliamentary Ombudsman Tryggvi Gunnarsson today published another letter to Hanna Birna, asking for more information in light of her answers to his previous letter and his conversations with former Commissioner of the Capital Area Police Stefán Eiríksson. In the course of the Ombudsman’s interview with Stefán, the former commissioner says that Hanna Birna had, on many occasions,
After the big reveal of The Knife’s Iceland Airwaves performance last week, the festival has released 40 new additions for the 2014 edition. The announcement includes a fine selection of local artists, including Grapevine’s band of the year Sin Fang, the Ólafur Arnalds/Janus Rasmussen techno partnership Kiasmos, emerging nu-electronica maestro M-Band, and bearded musical polymath Mugison. From abroad, the UK indie label Domino Records will send over two of their finest, with virtuoso guitarist Anna Calvi bringing her dramatic sound to Reykjavík, alongside label-mate How To Dress Well. They’re joined by Bella Union’s indie-psych band Horse Thief, Canadian noise-rock outfit