DP587 | Tax Rates, Progressivity and de facto Fiscal Indexation in Ten European Countries

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Difficulties in European fiscal harmonization will mainly depend on present inter-country differences in effective rather than scheduled tax rates and tax structures. This paper therefore tries to evaluate the historical and current heterogeneities and similarities which characterize not only de lege, but also de facto, the tax systems regarding the workers of ten European countries (eight belonging to the EC plus Austria and Sweden): for cross-country comparisons an OECD data-set for the period 1960-88 is used to measure indirect tax rates, social security contributions, average direct tax rates and the tax wedge. Through a theoretical, testable model, the effective marginal tax rate of the average taxpayer, the degree of progressivity and de facto indexation of direct tax systems are identified and then estimated for each of the years and the countries under examination. By looking at these data and these estimates we conclude that tax harmonization in Europe is easier to achieve in the 1990s than it would have been in the previous thirty years because de facto a large tax convergence has already been obtained in Europe, especially in the last decade.