Tax Day: A Time to be Thankful

Smile and breathe in every pose.  Even when you’re doing your taxes, especially when you’re paying your taxes. Yes, that lovely time of year has come and gone (for some of you, though, October is looming). Before you join in on the lamentations about how much you paid in taxes, allow me to indulge in a trip around the world (okay, just Europe), and you might not feel so badly about that check you wrote to Uncle Sam.

First stop, Denmark.  Did you know that the Dutch government collectstaxes equal to 48% of economic output?  Now that’s a lot of wooden shoes!  Why, that even makes US taxes seem low.  Our government collects a mere 25% of our GDP.

Next stop, Norway.  The working poor of Norway pay 14% income tax.  In America, our citizens with low incomes pay far less.  For instance, a single parent with two children who earns a third less than the national wage, pays -7% in taxes.  That’s right, that single parent gets a check (but that single parent still cannot afford to take those two kids to the doctor).  But that’s another article.

On to Sweden.  So much for Swiss bank accounts.  The marginal income tax rate for the highest earners was 56.6%.  In comparison, the marginal tax rate for America’s highest earners was 43.2%.

Now we all complain about sales taxes, especially after paying $120 for see-through yoga pants before tax!  But truly our consumption taxes are low.  Other nations impose VAT (value added tax).  Who hasn’t crossed the border into Canada and visited the duty-free shops?  Tax-free pure maple syrup and Canadian Club for everyone!  Seriously, in France, consumption taxes come to nearly 20% of most purchases.  But in America, the highest sales tax is only 9.4%–in Tennessee.

And it’s not just our citizens who enjoy these low tax rates, corporations do as well.  After all, “corporations are people, too, my friend”.  True, at 39% the US corporate tax-rate is the world’s highest, but that’s mostly on paper.  The fact is that more than 60% of US businesses with profits exceeding $1 million pay no corporate taxes.  What’s more, corporations don’t pay anything on “foreign” profits until the money comes home.  Forget what I said earlier about Swiss bank accounts.

So you see, tax day isn’t so bad after all.
In fact, it’s a small price to pay for living in the greatest country in the world.