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I was curious to find out just how badly overtaxed Americans really are, this being tax season and all, and the Republicans constantly howling about how much pain our tax system is causing them.

I found this article in The Atlantic on-line.   It’s dated January 2013, so it’s a year old, but written after the Bush tax cuts expired, so would clearly reflect the understandable rage about the exorbitant tax rates in this country, right.

According to the article, the taxes on an income of $100,000 were compared in 114 countries around the world.  And guess where the USA came in -  55th.  That’s right, there are 54 countries around the world where that wage-earner would pay more in taxes.  We are right in the middle.

The article also compared tax rates on a $300,000 wage earner.  Since our high-income earners are clearly overburdened, that would show up in the onerous taxes Americans have to pay, right?  Well, guess what – the USA is 53rd.  Yeah, 52 other countries tax their high-wage-earners at a higher rate.  Right in the middle again.

But if you want to see the real kicker, take a look at the graphic below the fold.  Try to imagine the heads exploding over at Fox News.

The same Atlantic article calculated individual tax rates as a percentage of GDP for the 34 countries in the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), essentially all the first-world countries.  And guess where the American tax rate came in.  

Our outrageously high tax rate is higher than . . . wait for it - only Turkey, Chile, and Mexico !!  

So show this article to your Republican friends - if they want to lower their taxes, now they have relocation options.

The article closed with this fascinating prediction.

. . . after 2020 the government's health care bill will start to make our spending levels look, for lack of a better term, European.
Stay tuned.

Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 11:16 AM PT: Update:  I want to point out that the data in the charts and the statistics that I quoted do not reflect the expiration of the Bush tax cuts in January 2013.  Note that the graphic is dated 2008, when the tax cuts were in effect.  I suspect, but do not know, that the US may have moved higher up the scale after the Bush tax cuts expired.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 0-)

    'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none go just alike, yet each believes his own. - Alexander Pope

    by liberaldad2 on Thu Apr 03, 2014 at 09:59:41 PM PDT

  •  We are taxed and taxed again. (0+ / 0-)

    I have limited internet access right now and can't follow the links but I'd like to comment. If you are talking about Federal Income tax you are no doubt correct, but if you add in payroll taxes, state and local sales taxes, property taxes, gas and utility taxes and the numerous other hidden taxes we pay the total percentage of tax we pay is actually rather high, especially for those of us making less than $100,000 per year.

    "Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left. We simply can't afford to double-down on trickle-down." Bill Clinton

    by irate on Fri Apr 04, 2014 at 04:03:39 AM PDT

    •  Yeah but the Republicans never give credit (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      irate, unfangus

      They never give credit to Lower and Middle Class for paying the other taxes.  That's why Romney was paying 9% while complaining about the 47%.

      The Rich and Corporations in the US DO NOT PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE pure plain and simple.

    •  27.3% reflects all taxes, not just federal (4+ / 0-)

      The Atlantic graph, which comes from the Tax Policy Center at Brookings, shows the total tax burden at all levels of government, including all the taxes you are referring to.  

      This is not to disagree with your perception that the effective tax rate for low to middle wage earners may be higher than this.  This statistic is a simple calculation of government revenues (again, including state and local) as a percentage of GDP - overall tax burden, not tax rate.

      The graph is simply saying that the US is not "over-taxed."  The government is not claiming an excessive percentage of the economic activity of the country, despite what the Republicans say.  And when you take into account the fact that that 27.3% of GDP finances a military budget that is much higher than all other OECD countries - probably put together - the argument that the US is "over-taxed" should simply evaporate.

      How to square this with your perception?  Well, one obvious point is that if the country as a whole is not overtaxed but the middle-class is...then there is ample capacity to pay elsewhere - among high-income earners and especially corporations - whose tax avoidance shenanigans are legendary.

      •  If anything, the Europeans are "overtaxed" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        But the degree of happiness with government seems to be high in the overtaxed countries.  I didn't discuss this in the article, but I suspect the reason is, as has been pointed out in the comments, Americans don't see the same direct benefits for their dollars, especially the middle class, given that the military takes such a large portion of the US budget, and health care, pensions and other social programs dominate European spending.

        'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none go just alike, yet each believes his own. - Alexander Pope

        by liberaldad2 on Fri Apr 04, 2014 at 06:52:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Anti-tax rhetoric easily resonates in this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    just another vet, unfangus

    country for (at least) 2 reasons:

    1) overall, taxation is highly regressive so when some rich fuckwad starts spewing the "we are over-taxed" meme - the little guy/gal easily totally identifies.   Leading to a tax cut where they get $5 and the billionaire gets $50,000,000 back, making the situation even worse, but whatever, let's not get totally off topic right now.

    2) tax $$s are spent on things that do not benefit the average person (e.g., $1.2 trillion spent annually on "security"

  •  Americans are Way, WAY overtaxed given (0+ / 0-)

    our current level of Govt spending (as a % of GDP). The best evidence of this is obviously the 10% unemployment that we have. This proves that the private sector has too little income and spending to generate full employment. So increase the deficit by either more spending or less taxes, as the Govt deficit = the Non-Govt surplus.

    If unemployment is too high => the deficit is too small
    If inflation is too high => the deficit MAY be too big

    "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens. The gold standard ended on August 15, 1971, its time we start acting like it. If we can afford full employment killing Germans, we can afford full employment during peace-time.

    by Auburn Parks on Fri Apr 04, 2014 at 05:01:03 AM PDT

    •  This is snark, I presume? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      just another vet, irate, unfangus

      Considering that is it quite well documented that the private sector has something like $1.7 trillion just 'sitting in the bank' - which if used for job creation would almost instantly put all unemployed Americans back to work.

      •  We need to look at several things, not just (0+ / 0-)

        tax rates.

        1)  What is the purpose of taxes?  Not to fund fed gov spending, to be sure.  The fed gov is self funding as it merely issues our national currency.  It funds both our incomes, and thus our ability  to pay taxes.

        Taxes don't fund our fed gov.

        States are another matter:  They need to earn dollars.

        2)  So, fed taxes must do other things:  Like - A) regulate economic behavior by punishing/rewarding that behavior B) Regulate equality, by taxing away unearned incomes  C) Regulate inflationary pressures, by removing excess dollars from circulation.

        3)  What/who are we taxing?  Are we taxing labor?  If so, that's dumb.  What we should  be taxing is unearned, rental incomes, which places a tax on the rest of society.


        And, to your point:  If the rich don't want to invest in hiring people, the fed gov should, even if this increases public investment (public deficits) in the real economy.

        And making those public  investments does not rely upon first taxing the rich, cuz the the fed gov just creates those dollars out of thin air, which may one day be taxed back.

      •  I presume that when you say the private (0+ / 0-)

        sector has "$1.7 trillion just 'sitting in the bank'" you mean the private sector has over $42 Trillion dollars just "sitting in the bank". Loans create deposits which means that bank deposits are always roughly equal to total non-financial private debt:

        But if instead you are talking about what is general called private sector "cash" which is not at all literally paper cash but is instead other digital liquid Govt liabilities, like short term T-bills. In other words, when people talk about Apple having $150B in cash just sitting around, what they really mean is that Apple has $150B in Govt so-called short term "debt", and probably plenty of money market and other agency backed paper etc.

        And you are definitely correct that if the private sector spent that money on productive investment and hiring workers, that would be good for the economy. The problem is that they have no reason to do so. Given the level of private sector income and thus demand, companies simply do not need to employ every american in order to make the things We can afford to buy.

        Its the paradox of productivity.

        If real wages and thus consumer spending don't keep up with producitivity and import growth then fewer and fewer people will be needed by corporate america.

        This is why we are over taxed. FICA is a terrible and regressive tax that sucks over $1 trillion out of the pockets of the middle class every year, let us keep this money and then the private sector companies will have a reason to invest and expand.

        Only when we've reached full capacity and employment and we start to see inflation that too high for us should we start to reintroduce FICA to absorb any excessive middle class spending.

        "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens. The gold standard ended on August 15, 1971, its time we start acting like it. If we can afford full employment killing Germans, we can afford full employment during peace-time.

        by Auburn Parks on Fri Apr 04, 2014 at 03:03:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  We've moved taxes onto labor and off of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    unfangus, Auburn Parks

    FIRE (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate).

    Which Adam Smith, for instance, would have said was crazy stupid.

    He advocated a land tax as the most effective way to insure that  WHAT  should be taxed away would be taxed away:  Unearned income.

    And hated the notion of taxing labor, which is the source of all new real wealth creation.

    Our tax policy is what it is, in part, because we've forgotten what purpose taxes serve  -  not to fund fed gov spending in the US, as the US fed gov creates the dollars which fund our incomes, which fund our ability to pay taxes  (States are different).

    And how national monetary systems actually work.

    And because we're completely confused about the difference between financial wealth and real wealth.

  •  Bang for the buck... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CFAmick, unfangus

    Americans may have lower tax rates comparative to other countries, but the average schmuck is getting way less back for his investment.  Not to mention having to buy goods and services that are, for the higher taxes elsewhere, often provided through tax dollars...instead, we get to pay an extra sales tax.
    Utility taxes...taxes on your internet/cable bill...etc...  

    The rich have it made here.  Their prices on sales and utility taxes are the same rates as ours, and they get more ways to dodge taxes on their income.

    But that we, generally, pay less "income tax" than other nations only proves that we're being shorted on the returns and are slaves to a capitalist system that deifies it's rich kings.

  •  Want to understand how taxes and quality of life (0+ / 0-)

    affect each other in terms of a society as it relates to countries?

    Google research countries and their ranking in quality of life and see for yourselves.  It's ironic that those that take care of their citizenry with higher taxes that are proportional and fair for all are the ones far better off than the U.S. in a categories.

    You get what you pay for, but unfortunately many in the U.S. cannot afford that dignity and quality unless you are in the ever extremely slim, but wealth and influence building growing 1% where nothing affects or diminishes their lifestyle or quality of life no matter what happens.  

    What politicians are in your wallets?

    “My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there." - Rumi

    by LamontCranston on Fri Apr 04, 2014 at 11:17:35 AM PDT

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