When I travel to the U.S., I inevitably end up in conversation with someone about where I live and how I feel about our tax rates.  And while generally speaking, Canadians pay more taxes compared to our American counterparts, it becomes a bit more complicated when you consider what Canadians get for those taxes, and of course everyone’s individual tax situation, too.
So how do we compare against the rest of the world?  Surely we must be on the high end of the tax spectrum, right?

It may surprise you to know that we don’t even make the top ten when it comes to the world’s most heavily taxed countries, according to recent data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  In fact, among the countries tracked in that study, we sit at a respectable 11th, with our top statutory income tax rate and top marginal all-in rate sitting at 46.4 per cent.  To compare, Sweden sits at #1, with its tax rates about ten per cent higher at 56.6 per cent.  Who’s complaining now, right?

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Interestingly, in many cases, countries with higher tax rates tend to fare better when it comes to “best places to live” surveys.  While there are a variety of different markers that each consider different factors when determining if a city or country should top the list, countries like Sweden, Austria, Finland, Denmark – and of course, Canada – tend to rank high.  In fact, in a new OECD publication How’s Life? Canada was ranked number two (just behind Denmark) out of 40 countries when it came to 11 specific aspects of a great life – from income, jobs and housing to health, education and the environment.

So the next time you hear someone smirk at our taxes in Canada, just ask them where their country ranks among the world’s best.