New OECD data in the annual Revenue Statistics publication show that tax revenues continue to recover gradually from the falls in almost all countries in 2008 and 2009 that stemmed from the financial and economic crisis. The average tax revenues to GDP ratio in OECD countries was 34.0%in 2011 compared with 33.8% in 2010 and 33.7% in 2009. This is still well below the most recent peak year of 2007 when tax revenues to GDP ratios averaged 35.1% and the 2008 figure of 34.5%. (Table A, Table 2)
- Of the 29 countries for which data for 2011 are available the ratio of tax revenues to GDP rose in 20 and fell in only 6. This compares with the even balance of increases and decreases across countries in 2010, indicating a more pervasive trend toward higher revenues.
- Between 2010 and 2011, the largest tax ratio increases were in Chile (1.8 percentage points) and in France (1.4 points). Other European countries with substantial rises in their tax to GDP ratio between 2010 and 2011 were the Czech Republic (1.1), Germany (1.0), Finland (0.9), Iceland (0.7) and the UK (0.7).
- The largest fall was in Hungary with a decline from 37.9% to 35.7%. Two other countries; Estonia and Sweden showed falls of one percentage point or more.
- Changes in revenue from taxes on incomes and goods and services contribute to the higher provisional tax-to-GDP ratios in Chile in 2011 and for France it was these items and social security contributions. Lower income taxes and taxes on goods and services were the main factors underlying the decreases in Hungary and Sweden. In Estonia, it was mainly social security contributions.
- The increase in the US from 24.8% in 2010 to 25.1% in 2011 was in line with the OECD unweighted average.
- Compared with 2007 (pre-recession) tax to GDP ratios, the ratio in 2011 was still down by more than 3 percentage points in four countries – Spain, Greece, Hungary and Israel. The biggest fall has been in Spain - from 37.3% in 2007 to 31.6% of GDP in 2011.
- The tax burden in Mexico increased from 17.7% to 19.7% between 2007 and 2011. Four other countries; Estonia, Germany and Luxembourg and Turkey showed increases of 1-2 percentage points over the same period.
Tax ratios vary considerably between countries as does their evolution over time. The latest year for which tax to GDP ratios are available for all OECD countries is 2010. (Chart A)
- In 2010, Denmark had the highest ratio (47.6%) with one other country, Sweden, over 45%.
- In contrast, ten countries - Australia, Chile, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Slovak Republic, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States - had tax ratios of below 30 per cent.
- Mexico had the lowest ratio at 18.8% followed by Chile at 19.6%.
- In 2011, Denmark had the highest ratio (48.1%) and Mexico the lowest (19.7%).
The main changes in the tax to GDP ratio of the main tax headings between 2009 and 2010 were as follows (Table B)
- the OECD average ratio of revenues from personal and corporate income taxes to GDP remained steady at 11.3%. Hungary reported the largest fall in this ratio (by 2.1 percentage points of GDP) and New Zealand was the only other country reporting a fall of more than one percentage point. The country reporting the largest increase was Chile (2.2 points);
- the ratio of taxes on goods and services to GDP rose from 10.7% to 11.0%;
- the corresponding ratio for social security contributions fell from 9.2% to 9.1%;
- there was little change in the average shares levied in the form of payroll taxes and property taxes.
Aggregate tax ratios often figure prominently in policy debates and they are sometimes linked directly to the economic performance of nations. A special feature included in section S.2 of the 1999 edition of this Report explained why figures on tax revenues measured as a percentage of GDP should generally be interpreted with caution. More specifically, the revised guidelines set out in the 1993 System of National Accounts (SNA) that have been used to estimate the value of GDP for all OECD countries since the mid 1990’s, generally resulting in higher GDP levels. As a consequence, revised tax ratios reported are typically one half to over two percentage points lower than tax-to-GDP ratios before these revisions. To limit any distortionary impact, the present edition of the Report employs revised GDP estimates for 1970 and later years in those cases where OECD countries have not reported revised GDP figures (compare columns 2 and 3 of Table G). The impact of GDP revisions is considered in greater detail in the “Methodology issues’ section below.
 Calculated by applying the unweighted average percentage change for 2011 in the 29 countries providing data for that year to the overall average tax to GDP ratio in 2010.
Chart A. Total tax revenue as percentage of GDP
Table A. Total tax revenue as percentage of GDP
Table B. Taxes on income and profits as percentage of GDP
Table G. The timing of GDP revisions arising from the 1993 SNA/1995 ESA
Table 2. Total tax revenue as percentage of GDP, 1965-2010
Table 5. Tax revenue of main headings as percentage of GDP, 2010
Table 7. Taxes on income and profits (1000) as percentage of GDP
Table 9. Taxes on personal income (1100) as percentage of GDP
Table 11. Taxes on corporate income (1200) as percentage of GDP
Table 13. Social security contributions (2000) as percentage of GDP
Table 15. Employees’ social security contributions (2100) as percentage of GDP
Table 17. Employers’ social security contributions (2200) as percentage of GDP
Table 19. Taxes on payroll and workforce (3000) as percentage of GDP
Table 21. Taxes on property (4000) as percentage of GDP
Table 23. Taxes on goods and services (5000) as percentage of GDP
Table 25. Consumption taxes (5100) as percentage of GDP
Table 27. Taxes on general consumption (5110) as percentage of GDP
Table 29. Taxes on specific goods and services (5120) as percentage of GDP
Table 38. Estimates of tax revenues as percentage of GDP, 2011
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