Tax revenue statistics - government revenue from taxes and social contributions

From Statistics Explained

In 2012 tax revenues increased to 40.6% of GDP in the EU-28 and to 41.7% of GDP in the EA-18


Statistics in focus 4/2014; Authors: M. ASSUNÇÃO, C. DENIS, M. MAROTTA, T. HEMMELGARN, B. SLOAN, L. WAHRIG
ISSN:2314-9647  Catalogue number:KS-SF-14-004-EN-N

This article presents recent data on tax revenue and its relationship to gross domestic product (GDP) in the European Union (EU) and the euro area. The latest year for which detailed tax revenue statistics are available for all Member States is 2012.

Figure 1: Total revenue from taxes and social contributions, EU-27, EU-28, EA-17 and EA-18,% of GDP, 1995-2012 - Source: Eurostat (gov_a_tax_ag)
Figure 2: Total tax revenue by Member States and EFTA countries, 2011 and 2012, % of GDP - Source: Eurostat (gov_a_tax_ag)
Figure 3: Evolution of tax revenue in the EU-28 and EA-18, billions of euro, 2002-2012 - Source: Eurostat (gov_a_tax_ag)
Figure 4: Evolution of the main components of tax revenue in the EU-28, % of GDP, 2002-2012 - Source: Eurostat (gov_a_tax_ag)
Figure 5: Tax revenue by sub-sector, % of total, 2012 - Source: Eurostat (gov_a_tax_ag)
Table 1: Total tax revenue by country, 2002-2012 (% of GDP and millions of euro) - Source: Eurostat (gov_a_tax_ag)
Table 2: Breakdown of tax revenue by country and by detailed tax categories in 2012 (millions of euro and % of GDP) - Source: Eurostat (gov_a_tax_ag)

Main statistical findings

As a ratio of GDP, tax revenue (including social contributions) accounted for 40.6 % of GDP in the European Union (EU-28) and 41.7 % of GDP in the euro area (EA-18). This represents an increase of 0.6 pp. of GDP in the EU-28 and 0.9 in the EA-18. In absolute terms, tax revenue in 2012 continued the growth from its low-point of 2010. From its 2006 peak, EU-28 tax revenue as a percentage of GDP had decreased every year until it started to increase in 2011. The 2012 ratio is the highest since 2001. For the EA-18, tax revenue as a percentage of GDP had decreased every year from its 2007 peak until it started to increase in 2011 and is now at its highest since 2000.

In 2012 tax revenue made up just under 90 % of total general government revenue in the European Union. Taxes on production and imports accounted for 13.6 % of GDP and current taxes on income, wealth, etc. were 12.9 % of GDP. Current taxes on income, wealth, etc. as a  % of GDP decreased from 2007 to 2010, but a slight increase was seen in 2011 followed by a stronger increase in 2012. The share of social contributions remained relatively stable at 14.0 % of GDP in 2012.

Evolution of tax revenue

In 2012, EU-28 tax revenue (defined to also include actual and imputed social contributions, please refer to the chapter Data sources and availability below) of general government (plus institutions of the EU), expressed as a percentage of GDP, increased substantially to 40.6 % of GDP (up from 40.0 % of GDP in 2011). Tax revenue in the EA-18 showed a stronger increase and rose from 40.8 % of GDP in 2011 to 41.7 % of GDP in 2012. The pattern for both EU-28 and EA-18 has been fairly similar in recent years. In both EU-28 and EA-18, the drop was most marked in 2009, the year of the biggest contraction in GDP. In 2010, tax revenue as a percentage of GDP was at its lowest point in the 1995-2012 period.

Tax revenue-to-GDP ratio

Denmark, Belgium and France show the highest ratios

In 2012, tax revenue (including social contributions) in the EU-28 stood at 40.6 % of GDP, and accounted for about 90 % of total government revenue.

The ratio of tax revenue to GDP in the euro area (EA-18) was higher than in the EU-28, at 41.7 %. As figure 2 shows, the ratio of 2012 tax revenue to GDP was highest in Denmark, Belgium and France (49.1 %, 48.0 % and 47.0 % respectively); the lowest shares were recorded in Lithuania (27.5 % of GDP), Bulgaria (27.9 % of GDP) and Latvia (28.1 % of GDP).

In percentage points of GDP, the highest increases from 2011 to 2012 were recorded by Hungary (1.9 pp. of GDP), Greece (1.7 pp. of GDP), Italy (1.5 pp. of GDP), France (1.3 pp. of GDP) and Belgium (1.2 pp. of GDP). While Belgium, France and Italy are among the countries with a consistently high tax burden; the tax burdens of Hungary and Greece remain well below the EU average.

In Hungary, an increase in both absolute VAT revenue and personal income tax revenue (after a drop in 2011 due to the introduction of a new flat-rate system) were the main reasons for the increase in the tax-to-GDP ratio.

In Greece, absolute tax revenue continued to decrease in 2012. However, the further decrease in GDP in 2012 led to an increase in the tax-to-GDP ratio. While absolute increases are noted for taxes on income, other current taxes and imputed social contributions, decreases are observed for taxes on production and imports (reflecting the negative growth in output) and actual social contributions. New taxes, for example the tax on real estate introduced in 2011, helped to contain the decline in absolute tax revenue.

A decrease in the tax burden as a ratio to GDP was recorded by Portugal (-1.3 pp. of GDP), the United Kingdom and Slovakia (both -0.4 pp. of GDP), Sweden (-0.3 pp. of GDP), Lithuania (-0.2 pp. of GDP), Romania (-0.1 pp. of GDP) and Cyprus (-0.0 pp. of GDP), as well as Norway and Switzerland among the EFTA countries. All of these countries except Switzerland recorded an increase in absolute tax revenues.

Amongst the countries that joined the EU since 2004, Hungary and Slovenia had the highest tax revenue-to-GDP ratios in 2012, at 39.3 % and 37.9 % of GDP respectively. Even so, tax revenue in both countries remains lower than the EU average. It is interesting to note that the arithmetical average of the 28 EU countries is somewhat lower (at 37.1 %) than the GDP-weighted EU average (40.6 %), due to the relatively low levels of GDP (and therefore low weight) for some of the countries that have low tax revenue.

Tax revenue in 2012

In 2012, tax revenue in absolute terms increased in 25 EU Member States

In absolute terms from 2011 to 2012, overall decreases in revenue from taxes and social contributions were only recorded by three Member States: Greece, Cyprus and Slovenia. Tax revenue increased in absolute terms in the other 25 Member States.

The effects of the economic and financial crisis on tax revenue from 2007 onwards are apparent. From its last spike in 2006, in the EU-28 the ratio of tax revenue to GDP decreased by 1.1 percentage points to 39.6 % in 2010, while the ratio for the EA-18 also decreased by 0.9 percentage points of GDP from its peak of 41.2 % in 2007 to 40.3 % in 2010. In 2011 and 2012, tax revenue in terms of GDP increased substantially, which was due to absolute tax revenue increasing along the same path as in the previous year and GDP growth being lower. This reflects pro-active tax measures taken by Member States during recent years to correct their government deficits, such as VAT rate increases and new taxes, for example bank levies and taxes on property. EA-18 tax revenue as a percentage of GDP remains at a higher level than EU-28 tax revenue (Figure 1).

There are many reasons why government tax revenue varies from year to year. It would take a more in-depth analysis in order to explain the causes of such variations in particular countries. However, in general, the main reasons are changes in economic activity (affecting levels of employment, sales of goods and services, etc.) and in tax legislation (affecting tax rates, the tax base, thresholds, exemptions, etc.) affecting revenue as well as changes in the level of GDP. The crisis – together with measures of fiscal policy adopted in the countries – had a strong impact on the level and composition of tax revenue in 2009-2012, although the first effects had already become visible from the third quarter of 2008. It should be noted, that even when using accrual methods of recording, the effects of changes in legislation or economic activity tends to have a delayed impact on tax revenue.

Even in absolute terms, tax revenue fell in the EU and the euro area between 2008 and 2009 - for the first time in the period from 1995 onwards, before steadily rising again to surpass pre-crisis levels in 2011 in both areas. The proportional increase in tax revenue was higher than the proportional increase in GDP, which resulted in an increase in the tax-revenue-to-GDP ratio in both the EU and the euro area.

This recovery in tax revenue in most EU Member States can at least partly be attributed to active revenue-raising measures in some Member States, for example increases in the VAT rate, and the introduction of new taxes, such as bank and property taxes.

Tax revenue by main tax category

Direct taxes increased most in 2012, indirect taxes exceed pre-crisis levels

Tax revenue can be grouped into three main categories or types: indirect taxes is defined as taxes linked to production and imports (such as value added taxes - VAT), direct taxes consisting of current taxes on income and wealth plus capital taxes, and social contributions, which includes actual social contributions (payables into social security funds or other social insurance schemes) as well as imputed social contributions. In the ESA95 classification, these categories correspond to the following transactions: taxes on production and imports (D.2), current taxes on income, wealth, etc. (D.5), capital taxes (D.91) and social contributions (D.61), which is composed of actual social contributions (D.611) and imputed social contributions (D.612). Figure 4 shows the recent historical trend of D.2, D.5, and D.61 for the EU-28 relative to GDP.

In 2012 tax revenue in the EU-28 remained relatively equally distributed between social contributions (13.9 % of GDP), taxes on production and imports (13.4 %), and current taxes on income, wealth, etc. (12.6 %) (figure 4).

Because of differing national tax structures, indirect taxes, direct taxes and social contributions vary considerably in importance from country to country in terms of the tax revenue they generate.

For the euro area, a less even share of tax revenue was recorded among the main categories, with social contributions accounting for 15.9 % of GDP in 2012, taxes on production and imports for 13.3 % of GDP and current taxes on income, wealth, etc. accounted for the lowest share, at 12.9 % of GDP.

The EU-28 revenue share of social contributions increased noticeably in 2009, decreased slightly in 2010 and remained relatively stable in 2011. A slight increase in 2012 is noted.

However, for the EU-28, the share of current taxes on income, wealth, etc. has decreased from 2007, but showed an increase of 0.2 pp of GDP in 2011 and accelerated 0.4 pp of GDP in 2012. This could be primarily due to an increase in taxes on profits of corporations, rather than tax-raising measures – the increase in this component of D.5 is stronger than the one in income taxes on individual or household income. From 2008 to 2009 the share of direct taxes decreased more than GDP. During 2008 and 2009, the fall in direct taxes was more pronounced than the fall in indirect taxes. Direct taxes have also taken longer to recover. The main components of direct taxes are taxes on the income of individuals and corporations. In the crisis, taxes on the income or profits of corporations experienced a decline in 2008 and further decreased in 2009. Despite their lower relative weight in the tax burden, the decrease in 2009 was stronger than the decrease in taxes on individual or household income (which are affected by unemployment). This reflects the higher sensitivity of corporate profits to the economic climate and highlights the role of corporate income taxes as automatic stabilisers. The longer lag in recovery could also be partly due to taxation policies in many Member States allowing losses to be carried forward and offset against profits.

Taxes on production and imports have increased their share of total taxation from 2009 to 2012 and now exceed the 2007 level. This is at least partly due to increases in the VAT rates in many countries and the introduction of new taxes. Indirect taxes are expected to have a shorter lag in reaction to the renewed growth in output, an assumption supported by the increase from 2009 to 2010.

Taxes on production and imports (D.2) are divided into taxes on products (D.21), which are payable per unit of some good or service produced or transacted, and other taxes on production (D.29). Taxes on products are further split into value added type taxes (VAT; D.211), taxes and duties on imports excluding VAT (D.212) and taxes on products except VAT and import taxes (D.214). The most important type of taxes on production and imports is VAT. In 2012 in the EU 28, revenue from taxes on products accounted for about 83 % and VAT for around 53 % of the total taxes on production and imports. The highest ratios of taxes on production and imports relative to GDP were recorded in Sweden (18.7 %), Hungary (18.5 %), Croatia (18.2 %) and Denmark (16.9 %), in line with the high overall level of taxation in Denmark and Sweden and with a high and increasing share also being recorded for Hungary. The strong increase in the tax burden for Hungary is mainly due to an increase in D.2. The lowest ratios of these indirect taxes were recorded for Spain (10.7 %), Slovakia (10.2 %) and Switzerland (6.5 %), the latter having a low overall level of taxation (please refer to table 2).

Current taxes on income, wealth, etc. (D.5) include taxes on income (D.51) and other current taxes (D.59). Taxes on income cover both taxes on individual or household income and the income or profits of corporations, and include taxes on holding gains. By far the highest importance of such taxes is noted for Denmark, which raised the equivalent of 30.4 % of GDP from these taxes in 2012. The comparatively high ratio for Denmark is because most welfare spending is financed via taxes on income and, consequently, the figures for actual social contributions are very low relative to other countries. The next-highest figures are recorded by Norway and Sweden, which raise 21.1 % and 18.3 % of GDP respectively from current taxes on income, wealth, etc. At the other end of the scale, Lithuania (4.9 % of GDP in 2012) and Bulgaria (5.0 % of GDP) had relatively small revenue from these taxes.

Actual social contributions (D.611) are the main component of social contributions. This source of government revenue covers the compulsory and voluntary contributions payable to government by employees, employers and self- and non-employed persons. It includes any amounts payable by government as an employer. Actual social contributions accounted for the highest ratios in GDP terms in France (17.0 %) and the Netherlands (16.0 %) and for the lowest shares in Denmark, Iceland and Ireland (0.9 %, 3.8 % and 4.4 % respectively). In Denmark, social transfers are mainly funded through tax receivables. In National Accounts, imputed social contributions (D.612) represent the counterpart of unfunded social benefits provided by government as an employer. In 2012 in terms of GDP, they accounted for 2.8 % in Greece, 2.6 % in Belgium and 2.5 % in Portugal, but for less than 0.1 % of GDP in twelve other EU and EFTA countries.

More detailed breakdowns of D.2, D.5 and D.611 by country for 2012 are shown in table 2. Besides the main tax revenue categories, figure 5 also shows two minor components that are included in the definition of tax revenue: capital taxes (D.91) and capital transfers from general government to relevant sectors, representing taxes and social contributions assessed but unlikely to be collected (D.995).

Capital taxes (D.91) are taxes levied at irregular and infrequent intervals on the net worth or value of assets owned, or transferred in the form of legacies or gifts. These taxes accounted for 0.2 % of GDP in the EU-28 in 2012, with low ratios mainly recorded for some of the new EU Member States and the Nordic countries. They range from 0.8 % of GDP in Belgium and 0.5 % in Ireland, France and Hungary to being very small or non-existent in several countries. The high amounts in Hungary are due to a new tax on credit institutions introduced during 2010.

For the countries that (partially) use the assessment method of accrual recording (see chapter Data sources and availability) a capital transfer is recorded from general government to other sectors of the economy. This represents taxes and social contributions assessed but unlikely to be collected (D.995), which have to be deducted from tax revenue in order to produce consistent data with countries that use the time-adjusted cash method. In 2012, for the EU-28, this adjustment amounted to 0.1 % of GDP, with the highest shares being registered for Spain (0.8 %), Denmark and France (both 0.2 %). High amounts recorded in this category cannot be interpreted as a country having a less efficient tax collection system, since countries adopting the different method will not have any amounts recorded in this category.

Tax revenue by sub-sector of general government

Central governments and social security funds account for the largest share of tax revenue

At the level of the EU-28 in 2012, tax revenue of central government accounted for just over 50 % of all tax revenue receivable by general government plus the EU institutions. Social security funds accounted for 31 %. The state government sector (only applicable for Belgium, Germany, Spain and Austria) accounted for around 7 % of all tax revenue, while local government accounted for 11 %. The tax revenue of the EU institutions accounted for 0.7 % of EU tax revenue.

This aggregate masks a wide variety of arrangements through which sub-sectors of general government are allocated revenue (which can also be received through transfers from other sub-sectors and other revenue such as fees and property income). More importantly, the sub-sectors of general government have varying levels of responsibilities and thus expenditure.

In Malta, where only central government receives tax revenue and local government has a limited set of responsibilities, central government accounts for 99 % (with the remainder being EU institutions). In the United Kingdom 94 % total tax revenue is receivable by central government. In contrast, in Germany and Spain – both countries with a state government sub-sector – central government has less than a third of tax revenue.


Data sources and availability

Reporting of data to Eurostat

Data are collected by Eurostat on the basis of the European system of national and regional accounts (ESA 95) transmission programme: table 0900, 'Detailed tax and social contributions receipts by type and receiving sub-sector'. The legal requirement for transmission of data by EU Member States is 9 months after the end of the calendar year. The data in this publication mainly correspond to the end-September 2013 transmission, with DK, IE, LU, SE and NO having updated their data since.

In all cases, the data are largely consistent with the ESA table 0200 'main aggregates of general government' data released on 22 October 2013 (which has been updated by a number of countries since) except for some differences for PL for years before 2007.

Provisional data

Data for Greece are labelled provisional for 2003-2012. Data for Croatia are labelled provisional for 2002-2012.

Definition of government

The data relate to the general government sector of the economy, as defined in ESA95, comprising the sub-sectors central government, state government (where applicable), local government, and social security funds (where applicable). For the purpose of this publication the term 'general government' also includes taxes collected on behalf of the EU institutions. Thus it presents all tax revenue collectible at the EU level.

Definition of tax revenue

The definition used in this Statistics in Focus is ‘Total taxes and social contributions payable to general government, including those for government as an employer’. This corresponds to ‘Indicator 4’, the broadest of four indicators defined by the Eurostat National Accounts Working Group in June 2001. This indicator fully covers the series reported under table 0900 of the ESA 95 transmission programme. In particular it encompasses the wide diversity of social security systems in the EU.

The four Indicators are defined as follows (the codes in brackets refer to the ESA95 codes):

Taxes on production and imports (D.2)

+ Current taxes on income, wealth, etc (D.5)

+ Capital taxes (D.91)

- Capital transfers from general government to relevant sectors representing taxes and social contributions assessed but unlikely to be collected (D.995)

+ Compulsory actual social contributions (D.61111, D.61121, D.61131) payable to the social security funds (S.1314)

= Indicator 1 (Total taxes and compulsory social security contributions)

+ Compulsory actual social contributions payable to the central government (S.1311), state government (S.1312), and local government (S.1313) sub-sectors as employers

= Indicator 2 (Total taxes and compulsory actual social contributions payable to general government, including those for government as an employer)

+ Imputed social contributions (D.612) payable to general government as an employer

= Indicator 3 (Total taxes and compulsory social contributions payable to general government, including those for government as an employer)

+ Voluntary actual social contributions payable to the general government sector

= Indicator 4 (Total taxes and social contributions payable to general government, including those for government as an employer).

It has been found that, when comparing the four indicators, the trend in tax revenue is very similar. In terms of level of tax revenue, Indicator 4 is roughly one percentage point of GDP higher than the Indicator 2 measure. For a full analysis of tax structures, see the Eurostat / DG TAXUD joint publication 'Taxation trends in the European Union', 2013 edition.

Time of recording

According to ESA95, taxes and social contributions should be recorded on an accrual basis. Council Regulation 2516/2000 details the rules to be followed on the time of recording and the amounts to be recorded. Two methods can be used:

a) 'time-adjusted' cash − the cash is attributed to when the activity took place to generate the tax liability or when the amount of taxes was determined in the case of some income taxes. This adjustment may be based on the average time difference between the activity and cash receipt;

b) a method based on declarations and assessments. In this case, an adjustment needs to be made for amounts assessed or declared but unlikely to be collected. These amounts have to be eliminated from government revenue, either by using a tax-specific coefficient based on past experience and future expectations or by recording a capital transfer for the same adjustment (ESA95 code D.995) to the relevant sectors.

ESA 95 classifications and codes

D.2: TAXES ON PRODUCTION AND IMPORTS

  • D.2: TAXES ON PRODUCTION AND IMPORTS
  • D.21: Taxes on products
  • D.211: Value added type taxes (VAT)
  • D.212: Taxes and duties on imports excluding VAT
  • D.214: Taxes on products, except VAT and import taxes
  • D.29: Other taxes on production
  • D.5: CURRENT TAXES ON INCOME, WEALTH, ETC.
  • D.51: Taxes on income
  • D.59: Other current taxes
  • D.91: Capital Taxes
  • D.2_D.5_D.91: TOTAL TAX RECEIPTS
  • D.611: Actual social contributions
  • D.6111: Employers' actual social contributions
  • D.6112: Employees' social contributions
  • D.6113: Social contributions by self- and non-employed persons
  • D.612: Imputed social contributions
  • D.995: Capital transfers from general government to relevant sectors representing taxes and social contributions assessed but unlikely to be collected;
  • TOTAL (D.2_D.5_D.91_D.611_D.612_M_D.995): total receipts from taxes and social contributions (including imputed social contributions) after deduction of amounts assessed but unlikely to be collected.

Total general government revenue (TR) includes total taxes and social contributions as well as market output (P.11), output for final use (P.12), payments for other non-market output (P.131), other subsidies on production, receivable (D.39rec), property income, receivable (D.4rec), other current transfers, receivable (D.7rec) and capital transfers, receivable (D.9rec).

GDP at current prices (nominal GDP) is used throughout.

More data

The data used in this report are collected from the Member States by the European Commission. More data can be found in Eurostat's online database under the theme economy and finance.

Symbols:

"-" 'not applicable', 'real zero' or 'zero by default'

":" not available

"pp" percentage points

This publication is a result of cooperation between DG TAXUD and Eurostat. It has benefited from fruitful comments of staff in both DGs as well as from Martin Kellaway at Hendyplan. The authors can be contacted at TAXUD-STRUCTURES@ec.europa.eu and ESTAT-ESA95-GOV@ec.europa.eu

Context

As a ratio of GDP, tax revenue (including social contributions) accounted for 40.6 % of GDP in the European Union (EU-28) and 41.7 % of GDP in the euro area (EA-18). This represents an increase of 0.6 pp. of GDP in the EU-28 and 0.9 in the EA-18. In absolute terms, tax revenue in 2012 continued the growth from its low-point of 2010. From its 2006 peak, EU-28 tax revenue as a percentage of GDP had decreased every year until it started to increase in 2011. The 2012 ratio is the highest since 2001. For the EA-18, tax revenue as a percentage of GDP had decreased every year from its 2007 peak until it started to increase in 2011 and is now at its highest since 2000.

In 2012 tax revenue made up just under 90 % of total general government revenue in the European Union. Taxes on production and imports accounted for 13.6 % of GDP and current taxes on income, wealth, etc. were 12.9 % of GDP. Current taxes on income, wealth, etc. as a % of GDP decreased from 2007 to 2010, but a slight increase was seen in 2011 followed by a stronger increase in 2012. The share of social contributions remained relatively stable at 14.0 % of GDP in 2012.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Main tables

Total general government revenue (tec00021)
Total general government expenditure (tec00023)
Taxes on production and imports (tec00020)
Current taxes on income, wealth, etc. (tec00018)
Social contributions (tec00019)

Database

Annual government finance statistics (gov_a)
Government revenue, expenditure and main aggregates (gov_a_main)
General government expenditure by function (COFOG) (gov_a_exp)
Main national accounts tax aggregates (gov_a_tax_ag)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Other information

  • European Commission - DG Taxation and Customs Union:
  • Website dedicated to the Taxation trends report, including the full methodological annex to the Taxation trends report and the National Tax Lists for the 2013 edition of the Taxation trends report.
  • Database of main taxes in Europe


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