Writer goes to the Netherlands. Writer notices 52 percent tax rate. Writer freaks. Writer finds out that the situation is rather more complicated than all that:
[W]hile the top income-tax rate in the United States is 35 percent, the numbers are a bit misleading. “People coming from the U.S. to the Netherlands focus on that difference, and on that 52 percent,” said Constanze Woelfle, an American accountant based in the Netherlands whose clients are mostly American expats. “But consider that the Dutch rate includes social security, which in the U.S. is an additional 6.2 percent. Then in the U.S. you have state and local taxes, and much higher real estate taxes. If you were to add all those up, you would get close to the 52 percent.”
Yep. There's a tendency to run straight comparisons of federal income tax brackets in the United States and Europe. But the United States raises a lot of money outside the income tax. On the other hand, European countries use VATs and gas taxes and so forth. It would be nice to see a comparison of the effective total tax rates in various developed countries for someone making, say, $45,000 a year.