Think You’re Paying a Lot of Taxes? Here’s How the US Compares With Other Rich Countries

What's Hot

2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

Americans may be comforted to know that they pay less, on average, than people in most developed countries. Of course, they may get less, too.

Nothing is certain except death and taxes — and Americans complaining about how much they pay in taxes.

Despite Americans’ seemingly endless laundry list of criticism about the U.S. tax system and how much money they’re forced to fork over to Uncle Sam, U.S. citizens’ tax bills are, in fact, below average compared with the taxes paid by residents of other developed countries.

In a comparison of the world’s developed nations, Americans are taxed on the lower end of the scale, according to Pew Research, which analyzed data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s database of taxes and benefits. In terms of the “tax burden” — which Pew defines as national-level income taxes plus mandatory social-insurance contributions as a percentage of gross income — the United States ranks 25 out of the 39 nations.

So, consider the tax burden for two different family types in the United States and in another developed nation:

  • A single, childless American making the average wage in 2014 ($50,099) paid 24.8 percent of gross income in federal income tax and payroll taxes. The 39-country average tax burden for a taxpayer with that profile was 27.3 percent. In Belgium, a person with that profile paid 42.3 percent.
  • A married American couple, both working — one at the average wage, one at two-thirds of it — and with two kids, paid 19.4 percent of their gross income in taxes. In Belgium, a similar family would have paid nearly double that rate — 38.3 percent.

Pew crunched the numbers for two other family structures and its conclusion remained the same.

“In all cases, the U.S. was below the 39-nation average — in some cases, well below,” Pew noted.

Pierre LeBlanc of the OECD’s Center for Tax Policy and Administration told PBS Newshour that it’s important to consider what’s included and what’s not when looking at Pew’s tax comparisons.

“Taxes and social security contributions are paying for different bundles of services in different countries. In the U.S., take health care for example. The payroll tax for Medicare would be covered,” LeBlanc said. “But any premiums that people have to pay through their workplace for health care coverage aren’t, because that’s in the private sector. In most, not all, but most other OECD countries, that’s covered through the public sector.”

“There’s those sorts of decisions, there’s positives but those taxes are buying services that people value. So it’s about trade-offs. Each country will decide how to make those trade-offs.”

For example, Belgium has the OECD’s highest average tax rate at about 56 percent. But that’s not the whole picture.

“Social security contributions, in Europe in particular, are very important,” LeBlanc explains. “In Belgium you’ll see a clear example of that. That’s how they finance all of their pensions, all of their health care, and more generous unemployment insurance, and that shows up in substantially higher tax rates.”

Perhaps E. Jones, who posted a comment on the Pew website, sums up the tax discrepancy best:

“Yes, American tax rates are below average among developed nations … but those developed nations often offer universal health care, university opportunities, paid maternity leave, child care, etc. … I guess we get what we pay for.”

Check out “One-Fifth of Profitable Large Corporations Escape Taxes.”

How do you think Americans fare in terms of what they pay in taxes, considering what they receive in services and government programs? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


Read Next: 7 Steps to Turn Your Ideas and Inventions Into Money

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,061 more deals!