Sources of Government Revenue
(source: "Fair shares," Buttonwood blog, The Economist. April 1, 2011)
Very broadly speaking, the first two groups will fall more heavily on the rich; the last two will absorb more (proportionately) of the income of the poor. To save space, we have shown the top and bottom five OECD nations in each category.Oh...for the tax-dodgers out there ;)
Our many American readers will want to know the exact split of its revenue base. The answer is 40.9% comes from income, profits and capital gains (above the OECD average); 26.9% from social security (just above); 13.6% from property (second overall in the OECD); and 18.5% from goods and services (the lowest of all). In Britain, the equivalent proportions are 38.4%, 19.7%, 12.3% and 29%.
The optimal strategy for the global tax dodger looks like getting paid in Slovakia, owning a house in Mexico and buying your goods in the US.
The difficulty with taxation, of course, is deciding between "fairness" and "ability to pay." In most countries, the wealthy—say the top 25%—earn a disproportionately large amount of the income and own a similarly large amoung of the wealth—usually around 80% of income and assets—so what's the optimal structure?
On another note, Doug Sanders at The Globe & Mail wrote a provocative opinion piece suggesting that corporate taxes should be eliminated. Unlike the usual supporters from the right, this view is gaining traction from the left as well. The thought being that corporations are abstract entities and individuals are the ones that pay anyway. Some on the left feel that workers pay for it anyway (i.e. if corporate taxes go up, worker wages or number of jobs are often negatively impacted). If corporations stop paying taxes their influence over government will significantly decline as well. Anyway, an interesting view for sure. Tags: econopolitics, Sunday Spectacle