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29 October 2021

The UK tax burden is still low compared with most Western countries

Even after recent tax rises, Britain is still more lightly taxed than most major EU countries.

By Ben Walker

The UK tax burden is set to reach its highest level since the early 1950s, the Office for Budget Responsibility revealed this week following the Budget. After Rishi Sunak raised taxes by more this year than any Chancellor has in a single year since 1993, tax revenue as a share of GDP is forecast to rise from 33.5 per cent of GDP before the Covid-19 pandemic to 36.2 per cent of GDP by 2026-27.

But the UK is still lightly taxed compared with most other Western countries (see chart below).

France, where social welfare spending is significantly higher (31 per cent of GDP) than in Britain (21 per cent), has the highest tax burden (51.7 per cent) after Finland (52.2 per cent). In Germany, the tax burden is 46.3 per cent, and in Italy it stands at 47.5 per cent. Even after recent tax rises, the UK remains far closer to the US (where the tax burden is just 31.1 per cent) than it does to its largest European counterparts.

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