Denmark Has Developed World’s Highest Tax Burden, Reports OECD

December 4, 2009

From the Copenhagen Post:

With an average tax rate of 48.3 percent, Denmark edges out its Scandinavian neighbour by more than a full percentage point, Sweden coming in at 47.1 percent.[…]

Tax Minister Kristian Jensen said while he had no wish for Denmark to hold first place in this unenviable category, he added that the country was facing the challenge of keeping its economy afloat during the financial crisis.

Here’s a chart from the OECD on their report, which uses 2007 data. Tax burdens often mirror the economy as a whole, and the OECD finds that burdens rose in the 1990s, dropped between 2001 and 2004, rose between 2005 and 2007, and began falling again in 2007. No doubt people will argue about what the cause is behind prosperity going hand-in-hand with high tax burdens (and recession accompanying lower tax burdens).

The average OECD country has a 35.8% tax burden, down from the all-time peak in 2000. The United States is way down the list (with a higher tax burden than only South Korea, Turkey, and Mexico). Some will say this is evidence that our tax take can go higher; others will say that lower tax burden enables our wealth and prosperity relative to everyone else. Perhaps I’d add that unless we do something about federal entitlement program growth and federal debt, our position on the OECD list will rise soon enough on its own.



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A tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities.

A recession is a significant and sustained decline in the economy. Typically, a recession lasts longer than six months, but recovery from a recession can take a few years.