As a proportion of GDP, Britain’s total taxes were 37.1% in 2003, compared with 37% in 2002, up from 36.7% in 1995, before the accession to power of the Labour government.
That said, UK taxation is well below that of France (45.7% of GDP in 2003) and Germany (41.7%). British taxation was also below the average level for the expanded EU, which was 41.5% of GDP, compared with 41.3% in 2002.
Among the old pre-expansion EU, only Spain (36.5%) and Ireland (31.2%) had a lower taxation level than the UK in 2003.
However, tax rates in the new member countries were often lower, with the Czech Republic (36.2%), Cyprus (34.3%), Estonia (33.4%), Latvia (29.1%), Lithuania (28.7%), Malta (34.2%), Poland (35.8%) and Slovakia (30.9%) paying less tax than in Britain.
In 2003, Sweden (51.4%) recorded the highest tax-to-GDP ratio, followed by Denmark (49.8%). The lowest ratios were observed in Lithuania and Latvia.
The highest 2002-3 increases in the tax-to-GDP ratio were recorded in Cyprus (from 32.5% to 34.3%) and the largest reductions in Slovakia (32.5% to 30.9%).
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