Gov’t Tax Takes at Record High With France in Top Spot


PARIS (Reuters) - France over­took Den­mark as the most taxed coun­try in 2017 as gov­ern­ment tax rev­enues in de­vel­oped coun­tries hit a record high, the OECD said, data which may do lit­tle to help Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron pla­cate protesters an­gered over liv­ing costs.

The Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and Devel­op­ment (OECD) said on Wed­nes­day over­all gov­ern­ment tax rev­enue on av­er­age reached 34.2 per­cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP) last year among 34 de­vel­oped coun­tries for which the Paris-based body com­piled data.

Though up only slightly from 34.0 per­cent in 2016, the fig­ure was the high­est av­er­age over­all tax take since the in­ter­na­tional pol­icy fo­rum’s records be­gan in 1965, it said. In France, tax rev­enues rose to 46.2 per­cent of GDP, sur­pass­ing Den­mark, where the ra­tio fell to 46.0 per­cent.

France’s high tax bur­den is a source of re­sent­ment among vot­ers. A pub­lic re­bel­lion dubbed the “yel­low vest” move­ment erupted in mid-Novem­ber in anger at high fuel taxes and the pun­ish­ing cost of liv­ing. The protests have at times turned vi­o­lent, in par­tic­u­lar in Paris.

Macron’s gov­ern­ment, which aims to grad­u­ally re­duce the over­all tax bur­den dur­ing his five-year term, on Tues­day sus­pended fur­ther planned in­creases in fuel taxes for at least six months to try to calm the spi­ralling cri­sis.

The OECD said the gov­ern­ment tax take rose in 19 mem­ber coun­tries last year and fell in 16.

Is­rael saw the big­gest in­crease - 1.4 per­cent­age points to 32.7 per­cent of GDP - due to a num­ber of pol­icy changes af­fect­ing taxes on in­come and profit.

The United States saw the sec­ond-big­gest in­crease in 2017 - 1.3 per­cent­age points to 27.1 per­cent of GDP, which the OECD said was partly due to a one-off repa­tri­a­tion of tax on com­pa­nies’ for­eign earn­ings. Mex­ico had the low­est over­all tax bur­den at 16.2 per­cent, the OECD said.

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