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Home NATIONALNew Year promises many legislative changes
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Thu, 31 Dec, 2015 12:01:50 AM
FTimes – STT Report, Dec 31
File Photo Lehtikuva.
A number of changes will take effect in this years after a series of legislative amendments and reforms were passed in the parliament last year.

This year will see interest deduction on mortgage reduce further. In 2016, 55 percent of mortgage interest is tax deductible.
 
The deductibility of mortgage interest will be further curtailed in the coming years such that in 2019 deductibility on mortgage will be 25 percent.

The YLE tax will also be phased out from the beginning of  this year for approximately 300,000 persons on low income. The minimum amount of the tax levied will rise from 51 euros to 70 euros.

Taxation on tobacco products will also increase steadily. The rise will be implemented in four phases over a period of two years.
 
The increase will be implemented at the beginning of 2016, the second in July 2016, the third in the beginning of 2017 and the last one at the beginning of July 2017.
 
File Photo Lehtikuva.
At all the stages, the increment will be no more than cents. As a result the increase in the price of cigarette is estimated by the Ministry of Finance to increase by on an average of 19.2 percent.

The car tax for vehicles with low or medium emissions will reduced in the period 2016-2019.
 
The car tax cuts targets particularly vehicles with low emissions, and according to Finance Ministry the tax could be reduced by 5.4 percent depending on the emission levels by 2019.

The base tax for passenger cars and vans will increase by 36.50 euros a year. The increase will, however, not apply until the beginning of 2017.

Provisions related to witnesses giving evidence in court proceedings will see many changes at the turn of the year.
 
File Photo Lehtikuva.
The court may conceal the identity of the witness, if the trial involves serious criminal charges and the need to ensure the safety of the witness and persons close to the witness may require protection of their identities. This may apply to cases such as murder trials, aggravated drug crimes or human trafficking cases.

Witness protection may be needed also in cases involving police officers on undercover tasks or a bystander who by chance witnessed crime related to organised crime.
 
Medical staff prohibited to give evidence will extend to doctors, dentists, nurses and psychotherapists, among others

In the future, broader use of video conferencing may be used in legal proceedings. Swearing by God's name in courts will be abandoned and all the testimonies will be heard on religion-neutral basis. Until now, a witness was able to choose any of the option provided.

The acknowledgment of paternity will become easier at the beginning of the year, when the Paternity Act reform comes into force. When two parents are, for example, cohabiting, paternity can be acknowledged by at a clinic before the birth of the child. A pre-acknowledged paternity may be withdrawn within 30 days of the birth of the child, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs stated.

File Photo Lehtikuva.
In the paternity acknowledgment, they will use a blood test instead of a sample of cells from the mouth to speed up the results.
 
The mother's right to oppose the father's paternity verification has been abandoned, and the father's right of appeal has been extended. The general rule will continue that those outside the family may not seek annulment of paternity results.

Medical reimbursement by the national social insurance institution Kela for pharmaceuticals will change early next year. Medicinal products which only warrant occasional or one-time use may be subjected to reduced Kela compensation in the future. Customers will be required to pay up to euro 50 for prescription drugs, and only after the euro 50 mark will Kela compensation begin to take effect. The decision does not apply to minors.

Job alternation leave conditions are going to be more stringent at the turn of the year. An employee may take job alternation when has worked for a total of at least 20 years while the maximum duration of the leave reduces to 180 calendar days.
 
 Furthermore the changes will result to job alternation leave being taken all at once while in the past it was possible to divide the leave in several periods. At the same time, higher Compensation for employees with long working history will be scrapped and all employees will be eligible job alternation compensation amounting to 70 per cent of unemployment benefit.

The government aims to make 50 million euros for the scheme. The parliament has already approved the bill.

The New Year will also bring changes to regulations on driving licences. The granting of driving licence will be transferred from the police to the Transport Safety Agency Trafi. In practice, matters related to driving permits will be handled by Ajovarma service points.

The reform also applies to, for instance, application for duplicate of a driving licence, driving training permits, motorcycles driving training permits as well as parking card for people with disabilities.

At the same time, the cost of driving licences will decrease. The cost of the first driving licence will drop from 60 euros to 40 euros. The cost of a duplicate of driving licence will decrease to 30 euros. Starting next year, the application for a duplicate driving licence can be done electronically.

Furthermore, short-term driving licences will no longer be issued. After the completion of the basic stage of driving training, a person will automatically receive a long-term driving licence which is valid for 15 years. For drivers of heavy duty vehicles, the licence is valid for 5 years.

Currently, short-term licences are issued after the initial phase of completion of driving test and are valid for 2 years. One was eligible for long-term driving licence after the completion of the advanced stage of driving test.

The legislation on fishing provides simplified licencing system for fishing enthusiasts. Under the new law, Fisheries management and fishing will be combined into a single fishing fee, payable by every fisherman between the ages of 18 and 64 engaged in fishing other than angling and ice fishing. The fee has been set at 39 euros a year, 12 euros a week and 5 euros a day with a provision which gives the right to fish with a single bait throughout the country.

Four municipality mergers will be realised in New Year. The Ostrobothnia municipality of Jalasjärvi will be merged with Kurikka while the Satakunta municipalities of Säkylä and Köyliö will become the municipality of Säkylä.

In Päijät-Häme,Hämeenkoski will merge with Hollola and  Lahti and Nastola will merge into a new municipality-the city of Lahti.
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