Tax policy analysis

Revenue Statistics tax to GDP ratio changes between 1965 and 2011

 

Tax ratio changes between 1965 and 2011

The evolution of the changes in tax ratios between 1965 and 2011 is as follows:

  • The average tax to GDP ratio in the OECD area increased from 25.4 per cent to 34.1 per cent (8.7 percentage points) between 1965 and 2011. (Table 2)
  • The historical development of tax ratios for individual OECD countries varies greatly, as shown in Charts B, C, D and E.  Each chart relates national changes in the tax level to the OECD average, for the periods 1965–1975, 1975–1985, 1985–1995 and 1995–2011, respectively.  Despite their overall increase, on average across the OECD countries total tax revenues as a percentage of GDP have fallen in some countries.  
  • Between 1965 and 1975, the tax burden in the OECD area increased by 3.8 percentage points (Chart B). Until the first oil shock (1973 to 1974), strong, almost uninterrupted income growth enabled tax levels to rise in all OECD countries.  In part, tax levels rose automatically through the effect of fiscal drag on personal income tax schedules.
  • Between 1975 and 1985, the tax burden in the OECD area increased by 3.2 percentage points (Chart C). After the mid-1970s, the combination of slower real income growth and higher levels of unemployment apparently limited the revenue raising capacity of governments.  But during and after the deep recession following the second oil shock (1980), countries in Europe saw tax levels rise further, to finance higher spending on social security and rein in budget deficits.
  • Between 1985 and 1995, the tax burden in the OECD area increased by a further 2.0 percentage (Chart D). After the mid-1980s, most OECD countries substantially reduced the statutory rates of their personal and corporate income tax, but the negative revenue impact of widespread tax reforms was often offset by reducing or abolishing tax reliefs.
  • Between 1995 and 2000 the average OECD tax to GDP ratio rose to its highest recorded level of 35.2 per cent.  It fell back slightly between 2001 and 2004, but then rose again between 2005 and 2006 before falling back following the crisis. Taking these changes together the average tax level in the OECD area decreased by 0.3 percentage points between 1995 and 2011. (Chart E)
  • Such averages for the OECD area as a whole conceal the great variety in national tax burdens.  In 1965, measures of tax to GDP ratios in OECD countries ranged from 10.6 per cent in Turkey to 34.2 per cent in France.  By 2011 the corresponding range was from 19.7 per cent in Mexico to 47.7 per cent in Denmark.  The trend towards higher tax levels over this period reflects the need to finance sizeable increase of public sector outlays in almost all OECD countries.

 

Downloadable tables/figures

Table 2. Total tax revenue as percentage of GDP, 1965-2010

Chart A. Total tax revenue as percentage of GDP

Chart B. Changes in tax to GDP ratio (in percentage points) 1965-1975

Chart C. Changes in tax to GDP ratio (in percentage points) 1975-1985

Chart D. Changes in tax to GDP ratio (in percentage points) 1985-1995

Chart E. Changes in tax to GDP ratio (in percentage points) 1995-2010


How to obtain this publication

Readers can access the full version of Revenue Statistics 1965-2012, 2013 Edition as follows:

 

Back to the Revenue Statistics homepage

 

 

 

Countries list

  • Afghanistan
  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Andorra
  • Angola
  • Anguilla
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Aruba
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahamas
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Barbados
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Benin
  • Bermuda
  • Bhutan
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Bulgaria
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cambodia
  • Cameroon
  • Canada
  • Cape Verde
  • Cayman Islands
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Chile
  • China (People’s Republic of)
  • Chinese Taipei
  • Colombia
  • Comoros
  • Congo
  • Cook Islands
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Côte d'Ivoire
  • Democratic People's Republic of Korea
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Denmark
  • Djibouti
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • El Salvador
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Eritrea
  • Estonia
  • Ethiopia
  • European Union
  • Faeroe Islands
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)
  • France
  • French Guiana
  • Gabon
  • Gambia
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Ghana
  • Gibraltar
  • Greece
  • Greenland
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Guernsey
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Hong Kong, China
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iraq
  • Ireland
  • Islamic Republic of Iran
  • Isle of Man
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Jersey
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Kiribati
  • Korea
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Lao People's Democratic Republic
  • Latvia
  • Lebanon
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macao (China)
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Mali
  • Malta
  • Marshall Islands
  • Mauritania
  • Mauritius
  • Mayotte
  • Mexico
  • Micronesia (Federated States of)
  • Moldova
  • Monaco
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Montserrat
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Myanmar
  • Namibia
  • Nauru
  • Nepal
  • Netherlands
  • Netherlands Antilles
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Niue
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Palau
  • Palestinian Administered Areas
  • Panama
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Russian Federation
  • Rwanda
  • Saint Helena
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Samoa
  • San Marino
  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Senegal
  • Serbia
  • Serbia and Montenegro (pre-June 2006)
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Singapore
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • Solomon Islands
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • South Sudan
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Suriname
  • Swaziland
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Syrian Arab Republic
  • Tajikistan
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Timor-Leste
  • Togo
  • Tokelau
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Tuvalu
  • Uganda
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • United States Virgin Islands
  • Uruguay
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vanuatu
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam
  • Virgin Islands (UK)
  • Wallis and Futuna Islands
  • Western Sahara
  • Yemen
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
  • Topics list