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The highest taxes in the world

Think the U.S. has it bad? These 10 countries tax their residents far more heavily.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 10, 2010 5:05PM

MainStreetBy David Seaman, MainStreet

 

The United States doesn’t have it so bad tax-wise compared to other nations, despite what Glenn Beck would have you believe.

Here‘s a rundown of average income tax rates for 10 high-tax countries, based on information from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development. The data are for 2008, the most recent numbers available.

 

10. Australia

 

Income tax rates:

Single, no child: 22.6%

Single, two children: 22.6%

One-earner married couple, no child: 19.1%

One-earner married couple, two children: 22.6%

Average income tax: 21.7%


It was recently reported that Australia’s federal government may raise taxes soon “to pay for an ambitious takeover of the nation's ailing public health care system.” Looks like health care legislation is hot, even down under.

 

 

9. France

 

Income tax rates:

Single, no child: 27.8%

Single, two children: 22.5%

One-earner married couple, no child: 23.9%

One-earner married couple, two children: 21.9%

Average Income Tax: 24%

Slow times are ahead for France’s economy. As BusinessWeek reported, “France’s economy will expand at a slower pace in the first quarter than previously estimated, growing 0.4% compared with an initial prediction of 0.5%, the central bank said in today’s statement.”

 

8. Italy

 

Income tax rates:

Single, no child: 29.3%

Single, two children: 24.3%

One-earner married couple, no child: 26.7%

One-earner married couple, two children: 21.9%

Average income tax: 25.6%

Italy’s economy has hit an unexpected speed bump, BusinessWeek reported: “Italy’s economy unexpectedly shrank in the fourth quarter as manufacturers cut back on production even after the country emerged from its worst recession in more than six decades.”

 

7. Greece

 

Income tax rates:

Single, no child: 26.3%

Single, two children: 25.5%

One-earner married couple, no child: 27.4%

One-earner married couple, two children: 26.6%

Average income tax: 26.5%

In case you haven’t heard, Greece is having a bad year. Its government is in massive debt, and its citizens oppose the government’s plans to correct the problem.

Those who work for the tax authorities in Greece are among the strikers who oppose the government’s new “austerity” plan to get its budget deficit under control.

 

6. Finland

 

Income tax rates:

Single, no child: 30%

Single, two children: 30%

One-earner married couple, no child: 30%

One-earner married couple, two children: 30%

Average Income Tax: 30%

They may be taxed at a pretty high 30%, but at least everyone is taxed evenly. Unfortunately, flat taxes aren’t helping the country’s economy fight the global recession. According to one recent report, Finland’s “economy last year saw its biggest annual fall since 1918 as the global downturn dampened demand for key exports like paper and mobile phones.”

When we can’t afford our Nokia (NOK) smart phones, it hurts Finland’s economy.

 

5. Austria


Income tax rates:

Single, no child: 33.9%

Single, two children: 32.2%

One-earner married couple, no child: 33%

One-earner married couple, two children: 32.2%

Average income tax: 32.8%

Austria was hit by the global economic downturn, but not as severely as many other countries: “Austrian GDP contracted 3.6% in 2009 and it will probably see positive growth of nearly 1% in 2010. Unemployment has not risen as steeply in Austria as elsewhere in Europe, partly because its government has subsidized reduced working hour schemes to allow companies to retain employees,” according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

 

4. Germany

 

Income tax rates:

Single, no child: 42.7%

Single, two children: 32.1%

One-earner married couple, no child: 33.2%

One-earner married couple, two children: 24.1%

Average income tax: 33%

Now this is interesting: “Thousands of wealthy Germans have come forward after authorities said they would buy a stolen CD with the names of up to 1,500 German citizens hiding cash away in Switzerland.”

The German government intends to purchase a disc for around 2.5 million euros ($3.4 million) that discloses the many rich German citizens who have been stashing cash in Switzerland to shirk German taxes. But now the tax man may have the upper hand.

 

3. Belgium

Income tax rates:

Single, no child: 42.5%

Single, two children: 39%

One-earner married couple, no child: 33.8%

One-earner married couple, two children: 31.3%

Average income tax: 36.7%

Belgium’s high tax rates make it difficult for retail workers to survive, says The Economist. “There are some genuinely tragic stories out there in this recession. For example, in Belgium, shop workers from the Carrefour supermarket chain are braced for a nationwide strike over plans to lay off nearly 2,000 staff at Belgian stores and depots. According to Le Soir newspaper, a 32-year-old cashier with five years' experience at Carrefour is paid 1,705 euros a month, gross. After Belgian taxes and social security charges are deducted, that is a brutally small amount to live on.”

 

2. Denmark

 

Income tax rates:

Single, no child: 40.9%

Single, two children: 40.9%

One-earner married couple, no child: 35.6%

One-earner married couple, two children: 35.6%

Average income tax: 38.25%

Denmark’s unemployment rate is much lower than ours. As recently reported by The Wall Street Journal, “Denmark's unemployment rate held steady in January for the third straight month, showing the same kind of resilience that has surprised market watchers in neighboring Norway and Sweden."

 

1. Hungary

Income tax rates:

Single, no child: 38.3%

Single, two children: 38.3%

One-earner married couple, no child: 38.3%

One-earner married couple, two children: 38.3%

Average income tax: 38.3%

According to a recent article in the Budapest Times, Hungarian politicians feel the tax burden needs to be lowered in order to stabilize the nation’s economy: “Tax cuts and employment growth are the main prescriptions offered by Hungary's major political parties to cure the country's lackluster competitiveness and its social ills.”

 

Visit MainStreet for six more countries on the list

 

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