Politics

Donald Trump’s repeated claim that the U.S. is ‘the highest taxed’ country is bullsh*t

The claim is sweepingly unspecific, and therefore incorrect in a number of ways. But that doesn’t stop Trump from repeating it while on the campaign trail, and he did it again with Meet the Press host Chuck Todd this Sunday

Donald Trump blamed America’s jobs problem on high taxes during a GOP primary debate in New Hampshire and explained that he wanted to cut taxes for the middle class and businesses. He said:

“Right now we’re the highest taxed country in the world.”

This claim is sweepingly unspecific, and therefore incorrect in a number of ways. But that doesn’t stop Trump from repeating it while on the campaign trail, and he did it again with Meet the Press host Chuck Todd this Sunday:

“We’re the highest taxed nation in the world. Our businesses pay more taxes than any businesses in the world. That’s why companies are leaving.”

While the U.S. does have the highest corporate tax rate on paper, as the statutory corporate tax rate is in fact the world’s highest, in practice the tax rate is lowered by deductions and exclusions, which puts the U.S below other countries when it comes to corporate tax rate.

In light of Trump’s repeated claim, the folks at Politifact wondered how U.S. tax rates stack up against those from the rest of the world.

Understanding the U.S. tax rates comes down to looking at taxes in two different ways: the tax revenue of a country as a percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP), and tax revenue per capita. According to OECD data from 2014, the United States actually generates less in taxes than 26 out of the 3o countries measured.

Taxation accounted for 26% of America’s GDP in 2014, while the average was over 34%. The top five highest-taxed countries according to the percentage of their GDP were Denmark, France, Belgium, Finland, and Italy. All of these countries topped 43%. Korea, Chile, and Mexico were the only countries ranked lower than the United States.

When it comes to tax revenue per capita, America is the 17th out of 29 countries on the OECD list, with tax revenue totaling $14,994 per person. The top 5 countries were Luxembourg with a high of almost $50,000 per person, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland. At the bottom of the scale is Turkey and Chile, with tax revenues per capita of less that $3,000.

The United States falls roughly in the middle, at 17th out of 29 countries on the OECD list, but it ranks 12th from the bottom regarding taxation as a percentage of GDP if you compare it with a 115 countries. According to the World Bank’s Data for 2012, the only countries with lower percentages than the U.S. were Japan and Spain, a few oil rich countries, and a handful of impoverished states.

Regardless of the metrics you use, it is clear that America is far from “the most highly taxed country in the world.”

Featured image: Joeff Davis (Flickr)

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