A Taxing Situation: A Look at Tax Rates Across the Globe
If you plan on making a lot of money, you might want to move to Switzerland. The Swiss don’t tax income all that heavily, charging an income tax of anywhere from zero percent to 13.2 percent.
You don’t want to move to Denmark, though. Yes, the people of Denmark are regularly voted to be the happiest people on Earth. It’s uncertain, though, how many of these polls take place at tax time. The government in Denmark charges income tax rates ranging from 38 percent to 59 percent. Imagine trying to get away with that in the United States.
In fact, the United States is fairly mild when it comes to income tax rates. The government here collects taxes equal to 15 percent to 35 percent of citizens’ yearly income, depending on how much money they make. Despite the country’s middling tax ways, complaining about income taxes has long been a U.S. institution. Americans have been grumbling about income taxes since 1862, when the Income Tax Law was signed.
This law, by the way, was established to pay for the Civil War. The fact that U.S. citizens are still paying income taxes today, long after the Civil War has ended, is a testament to the widely held belief that the federal government will never let go of a tax or fee once it’s been established.
Other countries with notable income tax rates include neighboring Canada, which collects from 15 to 29 percent of its residents’ incomes in taxes. In Mexico, the government charges taxes equal to anywhere from zero percent to 28 percent of its citizens’ incomes.
Other countries have extremely wide ranges when it comes to the income taxes that they levy. In Iceland, for example, citizens pay anywhere from none of their incomes to 37 percent in taxes. In Sweden, that range swings from nothing to 57 percent. And in France, citizens pay anywhere from 5 percent of their income to 40 percent of their income in taxes each year.
Other countries that make the U.S. tax rate look kind include Austria, were, depending on what they make, residents could pay income taxes of 50 percent, and Italy and Spain, where citizens could pay income tax rates as high as 43 percent. Even laid-back Australia isn't afraid to levy some high taxes. Its citizens might pay income tax rates as high as 45 percent.
By the way, if you’re looking for a country to blame for the idea of taxes, you might consider Britain. In 1377, it imposed a poll tax on its citizens. Then, in 1643, it imposed customs on basic goods.