Thanks for an interesting question.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in
Paris collects this type of comparative income tax data, and has a
long-standing methodology for comparing very different sorts of
An extensive spreadsheet table comparing income tax "wedges" (as they
are called by the OECD) from member countries for 2001, can be found
in a title repeated no less than three times on the same page:
"Average personal income tax and social security contribution rates on
gross labour income".
The detailed breakdowns (federal tax, local taxes, social security)
can be seen in the table itself. The "bottom line" figures for the
countries you are interested in are:
The total tax wedge is 29.7% for the average wage earner
("average" wage is found in the 100% column -- tax wedges for lower
and higher wage earners are found in the adjacent columns)
The total tax wedge is 44.2% for the average wage earner
(*ouch* -- but they do have GREAT social benefits in Denmark).
The total tax wedge is 50.7% for the average wage earner
The total tax wedge is 48.3% for the average wage earner
The total tax wedge is 30.0% for the average wage earner
(Exactly where you said it should be -- so what are we always
I'm used to reading off tables like these, but if you need any
additional help in accessing it, using it, or understanding it, just
let me know prior to rating this answer. Just post a Request for
Clarification, and I'll be happy to assist you further.
search strategy: I was familiar with the OECD work, and searched
their site for it.
P.S. I posted this first as a Request for Clarification, above, quite
by accident. So I've re-posted here as the answer.
Clarification of Answer by
19 Apr 2004 20:22 PDT
Here ya' go.
The OECD has yet another report entitled "Consumption Tax Trends" that
has the information you're after, though it's a bit difficult to slog
through it all.
The report itself is at:
and the relevant information you want is in Chapter 3.
Specifically, on page 13 you'll find Table 3.2, "Taxes on General
Consumption" which lists tax rates for all OECD countries.
WARNING! WARNING! The numbers in the table are not the usual tax
rates you're used to (e.g. 7% sales tax). Instead, they show the
amount of revenue collected through consumption taxes (what we call
sales taxes) as a percentage of total tax revenue.
The relevant figures for the countries of interest to you are:
That is, the US gets a relatively small chunk (7.6%) of overall tax
revenue from sales tax, while countries in Europe rely on it much more
heavily for their tax income.
How does this translate into actual sales/consumption tax rates?
Table 3.5 (page 16)compares VAT (value added tax) rates for the
countries that have them. The table doesn't include the US, but you
already are familiar with general sales tax rates in America. For
other countries, the nominal VAT tax rate is:
You asked for "ball park" figures, and you should treat these numbers
as nothing more than that. These are the standard VAT rates, but as
the report makes clear, each country has a complex scheme of
exceptions and exemptions that act to minimize the impacts of the VAT
on at least some of the purchases made by consumers.
Hope that does the trick, but as always...if you need additional
information, just ask.