In the leaked draft of the speech he will deliver tonight at the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump repeats one of his favorite talking points about the economy: “America is one of the highest-taxed nations in the world.”
This is something you hear somewhat frequently from conservative politicians. It’s also supposed to be a justification for the goliath tax cut Trump has proposed, which would largely benefit wealthy Americans. (It was originally $9.5 trillion, though supposedly a new version is being “tweaked” to about one-third that size. Either way, still huge.) The problem with Trump’s point is that it’s patently untrue. The United States is not even close to one of the most taxed countries in the world. Consider our total tax burden as a percentage of our economy. Among the 34 wealthy and middle-income nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, we rank 32nd.
And what about tax rates for the rich? The U.S. top marginal tax rate is 39.6 percent—lower than the OECD average of 42.23 percent and a smidge below the European Union average of 39.9 percent. Yeah, we’re not quite in a league with Russia’s 13 percent flat tax. But most of us don’t envy Russia. Most of us.