Countries with the Highest Taxes

Can you name the countries that collect the most tax as a percentage of GDP?
According to the Heritage Foundation. Source.
Includes federal, regional, and local government
Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: March 25, 2021
First submittedMay 13, 2014
Times taken63,878
Rating4.31
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%
Continent
Country
46.1
Europe
France
44.9
Europe
Denmark
44.9
Europe
Belgium
43.9
Europe
Sweden
43.5
North America
Cuba
42.7
Europe
Finland
42.2
Europe
Austria
42.1
Europe
Italy
40.1
Europe
Luxembourg
39.0
Europe
Norway
%
Continent
Country
38.8
Europe
Netherlands
38.7
Europe
Greece
38.4
Europe
Montenegro
38.2
Europe
Germany
37.2
Africa
Algeria
36.7
Europe
Iceland
36.6
Europe
Hungary
36.4
Europe
Slovenia
35.4
Europe
Portugal
35.3
Europe
Czech Republic
+66
Level ∞
Mar 25, 2021
If you're going to post about politics, at least be polite.

My advise to the typical young person who is interested in politics:

Remember that somewhere in the world there is someone who is both smarter than you and more knowledgeable than you, and has completely opposite political views. This person might even be a friend, a family member, or a future version of yourself. With that in mind, why are you so sure of yourself? Spend less time talking, more time learning.

+7
Level 68
May 28, 2014
Made a completely random guess at 2 seconds left with Lesotho... Bit of a fluke there.
+4
Level 78
Apr 15, 2019
I had the same fluke - no idea how I pulled that one out.
+25
Level 74
May 28, 2014
Keep in mind the source for this, the very right-wing Heritage Foundation. Zimbabwe as number one is especially ridiculous as the only real economy is a shadow economy which cannot be accurately assessed. And although no, I'm not a big fan of taxes, there is a strong correlation (always exceptions) with quality of life, especially maternal and child health care. Nordic countries especially make effective use of what they collect. (I wish we in the US could say the same.)
+6
Level 66
Sep 13, 2016
Thank you for posting this out. An astute observation. I myself am a centrist, but it is definitely noteworthy that this information comes from a source with a demonstrably strong bias.
+8
Level ∞
Feb 28, 2019
The data seems accurate, and if anything would seem to go against their anti-tax agenda as the "better" countries tend to have higher tax rates. I've seen other sources for this data on the internet and they are very poor, IMHO, often leaving out the impact of local and regional taxes. Credit where its due, the Heritage Foundation has compiled a very strong data source. But don't listen to me. The source is listed, you can check it out for yourself.
+7
Level 66
Apr 15, 2021
I have to chuckle at my comment, which was made two months before the 2016, when I did indeed consider myself a centrist. I don't think my views have changed much, but I haven't really been able to countenance anything the Republican party has done pretty much since I made this comment. I guess that makes me liberal now? Funny how that works.
+1
Level 47
Apr 19, 2021
The overton window has passed you to your right.
+1
Level 66
Apr 19, 2021
@jmellor, based on the comments I've seen you post, you seem like more the liberal pragmatist type. That's how I'd identify myself, and you seem to have similar views to me. Obviously though, I don't know everything about your political opinions, so I could be wrong.
+10
Level 84
Mar 19, 2019
What does "very right wing" even mean in this context? The data is the data. Total tax collections are a pretty straightforward measurement.
+9
Level 63
Apr 15, 2019
It means that the organisation that collected and published the data was specifically set up as a "conservative think tank", was intended to support a political ideology further right than that of Richard Nixon, and has affiliations to the Republican Party (according to Wikipedia). It is possible that some of the decisions they made about how to measure the GDP and what to count as tax would have been intended to support a political agenda, but as @QM says that doesn't seem to be the case.
+1
Level 36
Apr 15, 2021
Would Nixon even be considered right by today's standards? Wasn't he responsible for the inception of the EPA and for the thawing of relations with the PRC?
+1
Level 46
Apr 19, 2021
He signed the bill creating the EPA into law, but he was not responsible for its creation; creating a whole new executive branch is not something the President has the power to do.

As for China, yes he did oversee the opening of China with the world, though this can hardly be construed as a left-wing goal when many right-wing Cold warriors supported this because of the opportunities for trade and isolating the Soviet Union after the Sino-Soviet split.

Nixon was not ideological, he was on the whole quite moderate and pragmatic, but still firmly right of center.

+2
Level 86
Jun 20, 2014
Well, I guess I'll have to change my response the next time I'm faced with a tax increase and threaten to move to Zimbabwe...
+1
Level 66
Oct 10, 2014
i cant believe zimbabwe..... is on here
+2
Level 70
Nov 1, 2015
There is a high base-rate in Zimbabwe before which tax is zero or very small, whereas if you earn more money you come under the High Tax rate. This is to make the owners of land who are earning money on crops or animal tending pay up big time.
+14
Level ∞
Jul 1, 2016
Zimbabwe is no longer on the list. While I'm sure the government of Zimbabwe would love to confiscate nearly 100% of the wealth of the country, it's likely that their incompetence prevents them from doing so.
+1
Level 60
Jan 7, 2015
Funny thing is, I tried South Africa but not any of its neighboring countries...I could've done so much better.
+2
Level 45
Jun 1, 2015
Why not switzerland ? Leaving this country, I can assure you that we have almost the highest taxes of the world.....
+19
Level 32
Jul 24, 2016
Is that why your known internationally as a bit of a tax haven? ;0)
+11
Level 60
Dec 24, 2016
The Swiss are probably like Australians - forever complaining that they have the highest taxes in the world. Obviously not true.
+1
Level 67
Oct 24, 2019
Maybe not the highest in %, but in total $ paid probably still in the top 10 due to high income.
+8
Level ∞
Feb 28, 2019
Switzerland is ranked #50.
+7
Level 74
Apr 15, 2019
Quiz is not about rate of tax but percentage of GDP.
+4
Level 58
Nov 1, 2015
I must have typed every Eastern European country there is, surprised that none of them came up. Then I saw I had only not typed Hungary, the only one that makes the list.
+4
Level 36
Sep 11, 2016
I was going to put Lesotho, but thought "nah, its probably not one of them." Never second guess yourself kids.
+1
Level 60
Apr 15, 2019
Totally me. I put in eSwatini and was like "Nah, all of them are from Europe. Can't be any other African one like Lesotho. pffffffttt".
+3
Level 54
Sep 12, 2016
I guess this explains why Legos are so expensive....
+2
Level 65
Apr 15, 2021
most the the lego pieces are actually made in factory in Czechia. But yeah, Denmark has high taxes, but people don't complain because what they get is good social security, free health care and free education. And it's worth it.
+14
Level 63
Dec 10, 2016
Most of the countries with high tax rates have low levels of social problems. Fancy that.
+7
Level 69
Apr 15, 2019
Perhaps being rich makes it easier to avoid social problems? Do you think the trouble in, say, Sierra Leone, is that its tax rates are too low? That Singapore would finally eradicate its last social problem if it could just get its tax rates a bit higher?
+2
Level 58
Apr 20, 2019
Could it be because they are more homogeneous places? Political correctness (see diversity) aside, is it probable/possible that the more homogeneous the society, the less trouble?
+9
Level 63
Dec 7, 2019
I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "homogeneous" but if you mean what I think you mean then no, the countries on this list are not particularly "homogeneous".
+5
Level 75
Mar 25, 2021
North Korea is the most homogeneous country in the world and is in deep trouble. South Korea is the second most homogeneous country in the world and is highly developed.
+1
Level 40
Dec 24, 2016
Where would Vatican City rank on this list?
+2
Level 67
Feb 1, 2019
Yea haha I tried Vatican too for the fun of it, curious where they d be
+2
Level 83
Feb 28, 2019
Pretty sure most of their money comes through visitor donations/spending. From nationsencyclopedia.com: "There are no taxes, no restrictions on the import or export of funds, and no customs or excise duties payable in the Vatican City. Employees of the Vatican pay no income tax and no customs duty on gasoline or goods that they buy in the Vatican. Non-Italians enjoy allowances on their monthly salaries."
+2
Level 75
Nov 30, 2017
Swaziland & Lesotho are such outliers. Does anyone know why their tax rate is so high?
+1
Level 67
Feb 1, 2019
Well cuba, bosnia, slovenia and Hungary arent really the first candidates you think of either. Those and the ones you mentioned really stand out.
+8
Level 78
Feb 28, 2019
Well, communism was/is very much into free healthcare and education, financed by taxes of course. And it wasn't something the post-communist states felt like abandoning.
+3
Level 81
Apr 15, 2019
I guessed Cuba pretty quickly.
+1
Level 66
Jul 4, 2020
I didn't think about Cuba until I had 1 second left but by then it was too late. There's no way I would've gotten Lesotho. Given that all of the rest of the countries were European, I assumed that the two that I was missing were European until I saw the answers.
+3
Level 83
Mar 1, 2019
I'm assuming it's a per capita tax burden and businesses pay a lot in Luxembourg, because that place funnels a lot of money.
+1
Level 72
Mar 7, 2019
I was kind of surprised to see so many of the Balkans there. I guess they still haven't really recovered from their wars yet, and for some of them, still transitioning into the EU. Then again, the infrastructure and quality of life is noticeably improving in those countries; taxes sure help with that :-)
+2
Level 69
Mar 12, 2019
Every government would love to give itself the largest possible budget to play with by charging the highest possible tax rates. Generally, only countries that are very comfortable for other reasons can get away with it. Put another way, taxes are high in France for the same reason that rents are high in New York--lots of people want to live there, and are willing to pay a premium to do so.
+2
Level 60
Mar 13, 2019
I don't know why but I don't want to trust some of the countries on this list with the high level of their taxes
+2
Level 64
Apr 15, 2019
I've just made a quiz on countries with the lowest tax, if anyone's interested: https://www.jetpunk.com/user-quizzes/142762/countries-with-the-lowest-tax
+1
Level 73
Apr 15, 2019
I got all but Hungary and the Yugoslavian ones
+1
Level 26
Apr 15, 2019
Who else look straight away to the comments because they had no idea what the heck any of them were?
+1
Level 60
Apr 16, 2019
Lesotho ???
+3
Level 65
Jul 16, 2019
The answers are mostly European socialist countries. A factor most people don't appreciate is that Europe is largely stripped of resources and this has to affect their thinking. They don't have any significant petroleum reserves so they need to rely on the Middle East and are willing to look the other way when these countries treat their citizens poorly, promote terrorism and stick to customs that are natural for them but offensive to many Westerners. They are getting smarter by adapting renewable energy sources. If you haven't seen Europe, you don't realize they have to conserve or they'd not have anything left. The Americas, by contrast, have much greater reserves of raw materials and land and can afford, in many but not all ways, to have different policies. I've lived in Europe (Germany, UK, Iceland) and visited about 1/3 of the countries but I greatly prefer living in the USA for its much greater diversity, wealth of resources, friendliness of its people and diverse economy.
+9
Level 66
Aug 13, 2019
Norway, the Netherlands, and the UK all produce a decent amount of oil, Norway especially so.
+27
Level 65
Apr 29, 2020
PHG, I think you have a strange idea of what socialism is if you think that the listed European countries are socialist. Some have political parties that would like to implement rather more socialist policies, but I think you will find that most are rather more capitalist than socialist. Or, they like the concept of a Social Market. That is to say to attempt regulation of markets and the alleviation of poverty. There is no way I would be describing Germany or the Netherlands as socialist countries; we could continue on a case by case basis. And wait a cotton picking second, are you suggesting that European countries look the other way when they see human rights abuses around the world, whilst the USA does not? That European countries actually perpetrate such abuses themselves and the USA does not?
+4
Level 81
Sep 25, 2020
Really pretty much all countries these days, at least the prosperous ones, are socialist to an extent. The federal government is often the largest employer and holds the most capital. Most places have a federal income tax that goes toward social services. Including the United States. And this is a good thing.
+2
Level 48
Jan 25, 2021
We get it. You pay taxes in Europe.
+1
Level 74
Mar 31, 2021
Yep. There are layers, though. Not many countries have "one for all" %. Lower income earners pay, roughly speaking, from 0 up to a little over 20% depending on the country and income. Often, housing is a much bigger financial dilemma than taxation. VAT stings the poor. People living in Switzerland suffer the quite un-European health insurance thing...

...and the genuinely rich people have things like the Channel islands, the Dutch sandwich and whatever needs to be done when the taxman finds your latest gimmick.

+1
Level 55
Apr 15, 2021
The word “tax” is subject to debate. In France, almost half of the taxes are called “social contributions”, and are a form of social insurance: you pay contributions every month and in return you will get pension benefits when you retire and unemployment benefits if you lose your job IN PROPORTION of what you contributed. The difference with a private insurance system is that you don’t get to choose your insurer and that enrolling is mandatory.
+2
Level 57
Apr 15, 2021
god I hate the heritage "foundation" with every bone in my body
+6
Level 81
Apr 15, 2021
even your ischium?
+1
Level 61
Apr 20, 2021
i'm sure they care.
+1
Level 52
Apr 15, 2021
Spain Holaaaa??!!?!?!?!!?!?!?
+2
Level 60
Apr 15, 2021
i wish we were libertarian.
+2
Level 67
Apr 15, 2021
I wish you would educate yourself
+1
Level 68
Apr 15, 2021
taxation is theft. =)
+6
Level 36
Apr 15, 2021
due to some unnecessary changes, the US may soon appear on this quiz
+7
Level 64
Apr 15, 2021
Due to some necessary and long overdue changes, the US may soon appear on this list.
+2
Level 84
Apr 15, 2021
Not even close. They are the 175th country in alphabetical order. When you actually sort the data it's 58th after you remove countries that don't have information.
+1
Level 52
Apr 15, 2021
Oh. Never realized, still, 58th wouldn't put them here on that scenario.
+1
Level 48
Apr 15, 2021
Due to some changes, the US may appear on this list.
+1
Level 21
Apr 15, 2021
Quebec also has the highest taxes in all of Canada. Something about the French and taxes. The first African country I guessed was Algeria because I knew.. gotta be the French.
+1
Level 48
Apr 15, 2021
What is Cuba spending all of that money on?
+3
Level 67
Apr 15, 2021
Education and healthcare primarily. Cuba has got some of the best healthcare system and world class medical services in the world.
+1
Level 48
Apr 16, 2021
Oh. The more you know.
+1
Level 5
Apr 15, 2021
Since when Cuba is in north america??
+2
Level 34
Apr 15, 2021
Since always. Take a look at a map, why would Panama be considered a North American country but not Cuba?
+1
Level 5
Apr 16, 2021
I always thought Cuba was in Central America. I may be wrong. On the other hand, Panama is in central america, not north.
+1
Level 24
Apr 19, 2021
But Central America is not a continent, North America is.
+2
Level 62
Apr 16, 2021
I don't by any means trust the Heritage Foundation, and neither should you, but even if this list were accurate, it's rather pointless. It doesn't matter how much taxes you pay, it matters how it compares to what you get out of it. Taxes are an investment in a civilised society. You wouldn't judge an investment by its cost without considering its return, would you?

Take healthcare for instance. Many Europeans receive, on average, way better healthcare than average Americans, and even when you factor in the taxes they pay for it, it comes at a fraction of the cost. Again: on average, Americans pay a lot more for healthcare than Europeans do, without receiving better service on average. How is that any better?

+2
Level 62
Apr 16, 2021
I'm very happy to pay the taxes I do in France, and, if anything, I think they should be even higher, to pay for better universities, better social programs, to ensure that nobody is hungry or homeless. In fact, I'm very proud that my taxes contribute to bettering the society for me, and others.
+1
Level 57
Apr 16, 2021
This must be why citizens of Cuba and Algeria love living there so much