France no longer has the highest taxes in the EU

France no longer has the highest taxes in the EU
Bercy, home to the French Economy and Finance Ministry. Photo: Ludovic Marin / AFP.
French taxes are famously high - but no longer the highest in Europe, after a new report saw France knocked off its top slot.

After leading the way in 2017 and 2018, France was overtaken by Denmark in 2019 as the European country which raises the most taxes, according to a European Commission report on the state of taxation in the EU, published on Monday.

France’s tax revenues for 2019 represented 45.5 percent of GDP, compared to Denmark’s 46.1 percent. Belgium came third at 43.6 percent, with Ireland far away in last place, raising 22.1 percent of GDP.

French tax revenues were slightly lower than in 2018, when they amounted to 46.3 percent of GDP.

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Overall, France raised €1.1 trillion in taxes in 2019. For comparison, the United Kingdom only raised €852 billion.

Overall, 52.9 percent of France’s tax revenue went directly to social security funds (including healthcare) – the highest proportion of any EU member state.

A large percentage of tax revenue in France comes from social contributions paid by employers, equivalent to 10.1 percent of GDP.

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Despite France losing the top spot overall, large French companies pay more taxes than anywhere else in the Bloc.

The implicit tax rate (effective average tax burden) on corporate income was 33.2 percent in 2019, far ahead of Greece in second with 24 percent.

France is also among the European countries which impose the heaviest tax burden on high earners. The top rate of income tax including surcharges is 51.5 percent for 2021, putting France in sixth place, behind Denmark, Greece, Belgium, Portugal and Sweden.

President Emmanuel Macron introduced a number of tax cuts in 2020 in response to the ‘Yellow Vest’ protest movement. Nevertheless, the report from the European Commission predicted that France will regain its place as the European country with the highest taxes in 2022.


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  1. Perhaps not the highest tax but certainly the amount of commodities that are taxed. Such as electricity which has tax upon tax.

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