Irish Economy
Irish tax burden in 2013 in GNP terms similar to UK's; Down from 2000
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Dec 10, 2014 - 1:11 AM

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The OECD’s annual Revenue Statistics report found that the tax burden in Ireland increased by 1 percentage point from a GDP (gross domestic product) ratio of 27.3% to 28.3% in 2013. In GNP terms (mainly excluding the profits of foreign own operations in Ireland but distorted by tax inversions/brass plate operations) the burden is similar to UK's. However, it is below the level of 2000.

The tax burden is the ratio of total tax revenues to GDP.

The OECD average - which includes 34 countries covering all developed economies and a number of emerging economies - was an increase of 0.4 percentage points from 33.7% to 34.1%. Since the year 2000, the tax burden in Ireland has declined from 30.9% to 28.3%. Over the same period, the OECD average in 2013 was slightly less than in 2000 (34.1% compared with 34.3%).

Both the UK and Ireland have low employer social security taxes and they are among the worst for occupational pensions coverage in Western Europe. In addition, it's Irish public policy that part of the population use private healthcare services and health insurance costs are in effect taxes compared with some of the best services in Europe.

The burden in the UK declined by 0.1 percentage points from 33.0% to 32.9% in 2013 compared with 33.5% in Ireland using GNP as a base.

Sweden's burden was 43% and Denmark's was 48.6% in 2013. The US burden was at 25.4% and France was at 45%.

The OECD says that tax burdens and revenue collection in advanced economies are reaching record levels not seen since before the global financial crisis, but the tax mix continues varying widely across countries.

Revenue Statistics 2014 shows that the average tax burden in OECD countries increased by 0.4 percentage points in 2013, to 34.1%, compared with 33.7% in 2012 and 33.3% in 2011.

The think-tank says that historically, tax-to-GDP ratios rose through the 1990s, to a peak OECD average of 34.3% in 2000. They fell back slightly between 2001 and 2004, but then rose again between 2005 and 2007 before falling back following the crisis.

In 2013, the tax burden rose in 21 of the 30 countries for which data is available, and fell in the remaining 9. The number of countries with increasing and decreasing ratios was the same as that seen in 2012, indicating a continuing trend toward higher revenues.

The largest increases in 2013 occurred in Portugal, Turkey, Slovak Republic, Denmark and Finland. The largest falls were in Norway, Chile and New Zealand.

Detailed Country Notes provide further data on national tax burdens and the composition of the tax mix in OECD countries.

The tax burden remains more than 3 percentage points below the 2007 (pre-recession) levels in three countries – Iceland, Israel and Spain. The biggest fall has been in Israel – from 34.7% in 2007 to 30.5% of GDP in 2013.

The tax burden in Turkey increased from 24.1% to 29.3% between 2007 and 2013. Three other countries - Finland, France and Greece - showed increases of more than 2.5 percentage points over the same period.

Revenues from personal and corporate income taxes are now recovering, after the sharp falls of 2008 and 2009. However, the 33.6% share of these taxes in total revenues seen in 2012 – the last year for which full data is available - remains below the 36% share in 2007. The share of social security contributions has increased by 1.6 percentage points, to an average 26.2% of total revenue.

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