Monday, April 12, 2010

US Tax Bite Smaller than Other Nations'


As millions of Americans file their tax returns this month, they can find some solace in comparing US tax rates with those in other nations. Or can they?

The United States still has a lower overall tax burden than the typical advanced economy in Europe. But the gap isn't as big as you might think, and it may be poised to shrink as the pace of federal spending ticks upward. Here's a look at how Americans' tax burden ranks against that of citizens of other countries, and why it matters.

How do US tax rates compare with those in other nations?

The average American pays wage-based taxes that are similar to what Britons pay – and not much lower than in France. Japanese citizens enjoy the lowest rates among the Group of Seven large industrial economies, or G-7. This includes national and local income taxes, plus payroll levies such as the employee share of Social Security.

But wage and payroll taxes are just part of the picture. Add in sales taxes, capital gains taxes, property taxes, and corporate taxes, and the US sends 28 cents of every dollar of output to the government. That still matches Japan for the lowest ratio of tax revenue to gross domestic product (GDP) among the G-7 nations. France and Italy score highest.

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