Commentary

Europe Demonstrates How Welfare State Puts Squeeze on Lower-Income and Middle-Class Taxpayers

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Daniel Mitchell
By Daniel Mitchell | August 20, 2019 | 11:07 AM EDT

European Union flag (left) (Photo by Carl Court-Getty Images) and gas pump nozzles (right) (Screenshot)

I’ve written over and over again about how European-sized welfare states require big tax burdens on poor and middle-income taxpayers.

Simply stated, there aren’t enough rich people to finance big government, especially since they generally have the ability to avoid confiscatory tax burdens.

As a general rule, this means ordinary European taxpayers are suffocated with high payroll tax burdens, onerous value-added taxes on consumption, and income taxes that impose high rates on modest incomes.

But let’s also not forget that politicians in Europe also pillage motorists.

The Tax Foundation recently released a survey showing gas taxes in various European nations:

“… the European Union requires EU countries to levy a minimum excise duty of €0.36 per liter (US $1.61 per gallon) on gas. … The Netherlands has the highest gas tax in the European Union, at €0.79 per liter ($3.53 per gallon). … All EU countries also levy a value-added tax (VAT) on gas and diesel.”

Wow, this is like the perfect storm of bad European policy, with tax harmonization (minimum-tax requirement) and a version of double taxation (motorist pay both VAT and gas tax when they fill up).

No wonder French motorists launched a yellow vest protest after Macron proposed another tax hike.

Here’s the map, which should have shown the prices in dollars. Just keep in mind that the average European pays almost $2.50 in tax on every gallon of gas.

I’ll close by noting that Europeans don’t get better roads for all that money.

For all the sturm and drang about supposed problems with infrastructure in the United States, it’s worth noting that our gas taxes are much lower and we consistently get above-average scores in various infrastructure rankings.

Daniel J. Mitchell is a top expert on tax reform and supply-side tax policy and is Chairman of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity. Mitchell is a strong advocate of a flat tax and international tax competition.

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