Just as protests in Paris were starting to quiet down, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released new research showing that France won first place in its ranking of wealthy countries by tax rate.
France took the top spot away from Denmark in 2017 in the OECD’s annual review of taxes in its 36 member countries. The French government’s tax revenues were equivalent to 46.2% of its economic output, up from 45.5% in 2016 and 43.4% in 2000. In Denmark, which held the top spot from 2002 to 2016, tax revenue fell to 46% of gross domestic product from 46.2% in 2016 and 46.9% in 2000.
The tax-to-GDP ratio rose in 19 of the 34 OECD countries that provided data for 2017, and the OECD average is higher than ever. The average tax-to-GDP ratio rose slightly to 34.2% in 2017 from 34% in 2016 and 33.8% in 2000.
The protests over the past few weeks in France were triggered by a now-scrapped fuel tax increase. The “yellow jacket” protest started as a peaceful opposition to President Emanuel Macron’s plan to increase taxes on gas and diesel fuel by 2.9 cents and 6.5 cents a liter, respectively, which opponents said would disproportionately affect people already disadvantaged by low wages and unemployment.
This past weekend, 130,000 people demonstrated across France, putting up more than 580 roadblocks. Over 100 people have been injured, and three deaths have been linked to the protests.