44.2% is the total tax burden (taxes and social security) on the Belgian economy (in terms of its GDP), according to a joint study titled Paying Taxes 2009 published by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the World Bank, and the IFC. It’s usually the case that only the Danes and the Swedes are more heavily taxed than the Belgians among the OECD countries.
Belgium has apparently made some progress in the right direction. But the high tax burden and complicated fiscal regulations are impeding further improvements. Belgium is almost at the bottom in Europe: only France and Italy are worse. The newspapers have quoted a managing partner at PricewaterhouseCooopers Tax Consultants. I thought complicated tax regulations were good for tax lawyers, but I may be wrong.
I should try to find out, at some later point, how the money is spent in Belgium. Belgium doesn’t have the largest army in Europe, so I guess quite a lot of it goes to social security and benefits. There is a relatively high unemployment rate: 7.5% in 2007, and exactly half whom were unemployed for a year or longer. [Source: OECD statistics]