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Eurostat Publishes 1995-2005 Tax Figures

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

21 March 2007

The European Statistics Office (Eurostat) on Tuesday published figures examining taxation in the EU from 1995 to 2005.

According to the Eurostat report, in 2005, tax revenue in the EU27 stood at 40.8% of GDP, compared with 40.4% in 2004.

In the euro area, tax revenue was 41.2% of GDP in 2005, compared to 40.9% in 2004.

Over a longer period, tax revenue as a percentage of GDP in both the EU25 and the euro area were in 2005 slightly below the levels recorded in 1995.

The report gave additional information on the evolution of tax revenue in the EU and the Member States between 1995 and 2005, and on the breakdown of tax revenue across Member States by main tax category.

According to Eurostat, among the Member States there were substantial differences in the tax-to-GDP ratio.

In 2005, Sweden (52.1%) recorded the highest ratio, followed by Denmark (51.2%), Belgium (47.7%), France (45.8%), Finland (44.0%) and Austria (43.6%).

The lowest ratios were observed in Romania (28.8%), Lithuania (29.2%), Slovakia (29.5%), Latvia (29.6%), Estonia (31.0%) and Ireland (32.2%).

In 2005, as compared with 2004, tax revenue as a proportion of GDP rose in nineteen Member States, fell in six and remained stable in Germany and Greece.

The highest increases in the tax-to-GDP ratio were recorded in Cyprus (from 34.1% in 2004 to 36.2% in 2005), Malta (from 36.2% to 37.7%), Poland (from 32.7% to 34.2%) and Denmark (from 49.9% to 51.2%).

The largest reductions were observed in Austria (from 44.4% to 43.6%), the Czech Republic (from 36.8% to 36.3%), Estonia (from 31.5% to 31.0%) and Slovakia (from 30.0% to 29.5%).

At EU27 level, the three main categories of taxes contribute roughly equally to total tax revenue: in 2005 taxes on production and imports, such as VAT, import and excise duties, accounted for 34% of the total tax revenue, taxes on income and wealth for 31%, and actual social contributions for 32%.

However, the structure of taxation varies considerably between Member States, according to the figures. In 2005, Bulgaria (19.0%), Denmark (17.9%) and Cyprus (17.4%) had the highest ratios of taxes on production and imports to GDP, compared to an EU27 average of 13.8%. On the other hand, Lithuania (11.5%), the Czech Republic (11.9%) and Germany (12.1%) recorded the lowest ratios.

With regard to taxes on income and wealth, Denmark (31.2%), Sweden (20.1%) and Finland (17.5%) recorded the highest ratios to GDP, compared to an EU27 average of 12.8%, while Romania (5.3%), Bulgaria and Slovakia (both 6.1%) registered the lowest ratios.

For actual social contributions, the highest ratios to GDP were observed in Germany (16.7%), France (16.4%) and the Czech Republic (15.1%), compared to an EU27 average of 13.0%, whereas Denmark (1.1%), Ireland (4.8%) and Malta (7.2%) recorded the lowest ratios. Denmark's social security system is almost exclusively financed by general taxation.

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