More on Tea Parties and Higher Taxes

I was traveling and away from the Internet for most of last week, and will be traveling and away from the Internet for most of this week. But I did want to note a couple of columns from Bruce Bartlett that I thought had nice raw data on a question that came up last week: The relative burden of American taxes.


Bartlett's first column looks at how American taxation compares internationally. Here's the breakdown of OECD taxes as a percentage of GDP:

taxes as share of GDP, international, forbes.png

And here are the effective tax rates on the average worker across the same countries:

effective rate on average worker, international, forbes.png
Bartlett's second column compares taxes historically, within the United States. Here's the breakdown of effective tax rates on the median American family over the last 50 years:

effective tax rate on median family, forbes.pngI would add a couple of points about this. First, this data isn't an airtight argument against the claim that American taxes are, at the moment, too high. You could say, quite consistently, that American taxes were too high in the past, and that most of the OECD nations have taxes that are too high in the present.

Nor does this data say anything about where taxes will go into the future. One thing that struck me about the response to last week's post about the tea parties was the amount of concern about higher future taxes that will result from higher present spending. (Not that comments are a necessarily a representative slice of anything, but still.) That is a perfectly legitimate concern.

But I think this data does put the present tax furor in context. It certainly makes me feel less oppressed by the current state of American taxation.

Presented by

Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. More

Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism, an economics blog that was recently published in book form by Simon and Schuster. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. He is also on Twitter.

Saving the Bees

Honeybees contribute more than $15 billion to the U.S. economy. A short documentary considers how desperate beekeepers are trying to keep their hives alive.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

Just In