The Numbers: How do U.S. taxes compare internationally?
U.S. taxes are low relative to those in other developed countries. In 2008 U.S. taxes at all levels of government claimed 26 percent of GDP, compared with an average of 35 percent of GDP for the 33 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
- Among OECD countries only Mexico, Chile and Turkey had lower taxes than the United States as a percentage of GDP. In many European countries taxes exceeded 40 percent of GDP, but those countries generally provide much more extensive government services to their citizens than the United States does.
- The United States relies less on consumption taxes—18 percent of total 2008 tax receipts—than any other OECD country. Revenue from such taxes averaged 32 percent of total taxes among the 33 OECD countries. Mexico, in contrast, collected 60 percent of its 2008 tax revenue from consumption taxes.
- Personal income taxes made up 38 percent of U.S. tax revenue in 2008, more than in most other OECD countries, where such taxes averaged 26 percent of the total. However, individual taxpayers paid a larger share of tax revenue in Denmark (52 percent) and New Zealand (41 percent).
- Corporate income taxes accounted for a slightly larger share of U.S. tax revenue, 7 percent in 2008, than the OECD average of 10 percent.
- U.S. employees, on average, contributed more in taxes for retirement and disability insurance—10 percent of total tax receipts—than many of their OECD counterparts, where such taxes accounted for 9 percent of total receipts on average. U.S. employers, however, contributed less: 12 percent of the total compared with OECD employers’ average of 15 percent.