NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Tracking The Miseries Of Taxation Globally

February 10, 2000

From time to time, Ernst & Young tax expert Jack Anderson compares the rates of taxation in various countries in a compilation he calls "The Misery Index." He adds together the top marginal tax rates in various categories -- corporate income tax, personal income tax, supplementary income tax, wealth tax, employer Social Security, employee Social Security and sales tax -- to come up with his comparison.

Here are some of the scores -- highest meaning the greatest misery -- from his latest effort.

  • France is the worst, with a score of 193.
  • Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Austria and Greece follow -- with scores ranging from 171 for Belgium to 146 for Greece.
  • Japan is rated 124.
  • Great Britain and Ireland both get 110 -- followed by the U.S. with 90, although state taxes are not included.

Germany checks in at 143 -- but that will fall to 124 next year if corporate income tax rates are slashed from 40 percent to 25 percent and the top individual income tax rate falls from 53 percent to 45 percent over five years, as planned.

The French state's share of gross domestic product now exceeds 45 percent -- up from 35 percent just 30 years ago. That may explain why half-a-million French citizens now live in the U.K. and 60,000 French engineers call California's Silicon Valley home today.

Sweden's politicians now grab 53 percent of GDP -- up from 40 percent in 1970.

Japan's government makes off with 29 percent of GDP -- an increase of nine percentage points since 1970.

Source: Jack Anderson, "Charticle: A Misery Index," Forbes, February 21, 2000.


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