Belgian workers are the third most taxed in the European Union and occupy the same position among a global group of 34 countries, according to The Tax Burden on Global Workers study published on Monday.
Belgium is close behind France and Austria, the countries where wages are most taxed.
The report, written by James Rogers and Nicolas Marques of the Molinari Economic Institute, uses figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and wage data from national statistics offices.
“The ‘tax shift’ has proven that reducing taxes on labour reduces unemployment and increases purchasing power, yet Belgians are still among the highest taxpayers in the world,” the authors of the study said.
They also said that these high taxes don’t lead to cost-effective public services.
“Wage earners in other countries pay lower taxes while getting better healthcare, education and welfare in return,” the study found.
Among workers in the 34 countries studied, Belgians are the 6th most expensive to hire – yet Belgians still rank 13th in terms of take-home pay, according to the study.
For an average worker, an employer in Belgium spends €2.10 for €1 of net salary after tax, down from a peak of €2.34 in 2013.
The effective tax rate for a Belgian employee (including VAT) is now 53.95%, compared to an average of 44.5% for the 28 EU countries and a world average of 41.89%.
Friday 16 July was Tax Freedom Day for Belgian workers.
This date corresponds to the day in the calendar when a worker theoretically stops working to pay taxes to the state and starts keeping his or her income.
For French and Austrians, Tax Freedom Day falls on Monday 19 July.