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Examination of the macroeconomic implicit tax rate on labour derived by the European Commission


  • Paolo Acciari

    (European Commission)

  • Peter Heijmans

    (European Commission)


All tax indicator estimates, whether based on aggregate- or micro data, need to be corroborated by other information and preferably also other tax indicators before policy conclusions can reasonably be drawn. The purpose of this paper is to describe the way the (macroeconomic implicit tax rate on labour income is calculated in the European Commission Structures of the Taxation Systems in the EU? publication, to show its relationship to the widely recognised (microeconomic) tax wedge indicator for an average production worker from the "Taxing Wages" approach of the OECD, and to illustrate its use. It appears from the European Commission report that evidence from the implicit tax ratio at the macro level in a single year cannot simply be projected to observations for an average worker at the micro level, and conversely. With a few exemptions, however, both the macroeconomic and the microeconomic indicator appear to have comparable informative content as regards to general increasing or decreasing trends over time. It should be noted that the changes in the macroeconomic implicit tax rate may reflect structural changes in the entire economy, such as changes in the distribution of wage income. The implicit tax rate relates to actual tax revenue data and it could be, for example, that the revenue effect of targeted reductions in personal income tax, at say, the lower end of the income scale, has been offset by increases in wage income at the top of the wage scale. The two indicators could then be considered complementary instruments for evaluating tax policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Paolo Acciari & Peter Heijmans, 2004. "Examination of the macroeconomic implicit tax rate on labour derived by the European Commission," Taxation Papers 4, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission, revised Dec 2004.
  • Handle: RePEc:tax:taxpap:0004

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    Cited by:

    1. Liliana E. Donath & Petru-Ovidiu Mura, 2019. "The Looming Central and Eastern European Real Convergence Club. Do Implicit Tax Rates Play a Part?," DANUBE: Law and Economics Review, European Association Comenius - EACO, issue 1, pages 67-89, March.
    2. Spengel, Christoph & Heckemeyer, Jost Henrich & Bräutigam, Rainer & Nicolay, Katharina & Klar, Oliver & Stutzenberger, Kathrin, 2016. "The effects of tax reforms to address the debt-equity bias on the cost of capital and on effective tax rates," ZEW Expertises, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research, volume 65, number 148156, March.

    More about this item


    European Union; Tax indicators; Effective tax rates; Taxes on labour; Non-wage labour costs;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions


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