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Oh, It’s Tuesday: Pass the Dutchie (Taxes) on the Left-Hand Side

Photo by Rob Simpson
Photo by Rob Simpson

So I just loved this NYT article about an American living abroad in Amsterdam and paying 52% taxes on his earning. At first he was upset about having to give up so much of his hard-earned money, but then he eventually started liking his expat tax situation for a variety of reasons. Here are the ones I found especially interesting:

Social Insurance: The author received payments for vacation costs (8% of his salary on top of his vacation pay, which can be used towards plane tickets and whatever other costs come with taking a vacay). He also gets child benefits for both of his daughters, and an extra payment for their school materials. On top of that, the Dutch government reimburses parents for 70% of their daycare costs.

No other taxes: So yes, you’re paying 52% income tax, but you also don’t have to pay state and local taxes or for social security.

4 weeks of paid vacation: 4 weeks! 4 whole weeks! My mind shuts down just thinking about that kind of joy.

A much better social welfare system: If you lose your job, you’re not completely effed.

Universal health care: Here’s what really swung me. If you have a child, the government sends around a newborn helper, who cleans your house and teaches you to take care of your newborn. Can you imagine?

Cheap, safe mixed-income housing: I think that speaks for itself as we suffer through this real estate bubble. And I know in my starving artists days, I could have really used this.

Equality: Everybody gets these benefits, no matter the state of your health or bank account.

Also, the writer pointed out that with everything we have to pay for in the U.S., including state, local, and property taxes; childcare costs; health-insurance premiums; and so on, a 52% tax rate doesn’t seem so bad.

Funnily enough, while I was in Belgium with my sister (a fiscally-conservative Democrat) and her co-worker (a Republican), I was surprised when they both came to the same conclusion. After seeing how their Belgian counterparts lived, they both said that they would be willing to pay 50% of their salary in taxes if it meant that they got health-care, excellent vacation (4 weeks in Belgium too and w/ enough seniority, you’re able to take off for almost 3 months), and the ability to retire with a full pension at the age of 55.

So that got me to wondering, are Americans so tax-adverse b/c they really hate socialism or are they tax-adverse b/c they know that they won’t get much bang for their buck with the U.S. government? Why give money to an entity that doesn’t seem to care about your social or health or childcare needs?

Would you be willing to pay 52% of your salary if it meant that you could enjoy these kind of benefits? Please let us know in the comments and read the NYT article here.