European tax rates

Country Standard Rate Reduced Rate
Austria Austria20%10%
Belgium Belgium21%12%
Bulgaria Bulgaria20%9%
Croatia Croatia25%13%
Cyprus Cyprus19%9%
Czech Republic Czech Republic21%15%
Denmark Denmark25%0%
Estonia Estonia20%9%
Finland Finland24%14%
France France20%10%
Germany Germany19%7%
Greece Greece24%13%
Hungary Hungary27%5%
Ireland Ireland23%13.5%
Italy Italy22%10%
Latvia Latvia21%12%
Lithuania Lithuania21%5%
Luxembourg Luxembourg17%8%
Malta Malta18%7%
Netherlands Netherlands21%9%
Poland Poland23%8%
Portugal Portugal23%13%
Romania Romania19%9%
Slovakia Slovakia20%10%
Slovenia Slovenia22%9.5%
Spain Spain21%10%
Sweden Sweden25%12%

Understanding European Tax Rates: A Comprehensive Overview

Europe is a diverse continent, not only culturally and geographically but also in terms of its tax systems. Each country within the European Union (EU) and the broader European region has its unique approach to taxation, which reflects its economic strategies, social policies, and historical context. This article delves into the intricacies of European tax rates, exploring the variations and underlying principles across different nations.

1. Corporate Tax Rates

Corporate tax rates in Europe exhibit significant diversity, influenced by each country’s economic model and fiscal policy. Generally, corporate taxes are levied on the profits of companies, and these rates can impact business investment and economic growth.

  • Ireland: Known for its attractive corporate tax rate, Ireland imposes a standard rate of 12.5%. This low rate has attracted numerous multinational corporations, making Ireland a hub for global business.
  • Germany: Germany’s corporate tax rate stands at approximately 29.8% when combining the federal corporate tax rate of 15% with a trade tax that varies by municipality but averages around 14.8%.
  • France: France recently reduced its corporate tax rate to 25.83% in 2023 as part of broader economic reforms aimed at enhancing competitiveness.
  • Switzerland: Although not an EU member, Switzerland’s cantonal tax system results in varying corporate tax rates, averaging around 14.9%.

2. Personal Income Tax Rates

Personal income tax rates across Europe also show wide variability, reflecting differing philosophies on wealth distribution and social welfare.

  • Scandinavia: Countries like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway are known for their high-income tax rates, which fund extensive social welfare programs. Denmark’s top marginal rate can reach up to 55.9%.
  • United Kingdom: The UK operates a progressive tax system with rates ranging from 20% for basic income to 45% for earnings over £150,000.
  • Eastern Europe: Many Eastern European countries, including Hungary and Romania, have adopted flat tax systems. Hungary, for instance, has a flat personal income tax rate of 15%.

3. Value Added Tax (VAT)

The Value Added Tax (VAT) is a significant source of revenue for European governments, applied to the sale of goods and services.

  • Hungary: Hungary has the highest standard VAT rate in the EU at 27%.
  • Scandinavia: Countries like Sweden and Denmark have standard VAT rates of 25%.
  • Germany and France: Both have standard VAT rates of 19% and 20%, respectively.
  • Luxembourg: Known for its lower VAT rates, Luxembourg applies a standard rate of 17%.

4. Social Security Contributions

Social security contributions in Europe often cover healthcare, pensions, unemployment benefits, and other social services, varying widely between countries.

  • Germany: Social security contributions are substantial, with employees and employers each paying around 20% of an employee’s salary.
  • Italy: Contributions are also high, with combined rates exceeding 30%.
  • The Netherlands: Contributions are relatively lower, with combined rates around 27.65% of income.

5. Environmental Taxes

Many European countries have implemented environmental taxes as part of their commitment to combating climate change.

  • Scandinavia: Leading in this area, Sweden imposes a carbon tax of approximately €114 per tonne of CO2.
  • Germany: Germany has introduced an emissions trading system and various green taxes.
  • France: France’s carbon tax is currently set at €44.60 per tonne of CO2.


European tax rates reflect a balance between raising revenue for public services and maintaining economic competitiveness. While some countries attract businesses with low corporate taxes, others prioritize social equity with high personal income taxes and comprehensive social security systems. Understanding these differences is crucial for businesses, investors, and policymakers navigating the complex landscape of European taxation.

Each country’s tax policy is a product of its unique economic conditions, political climate, and social priorities. As Europe continues to evolve, so too will its tax systems, adapting to new challenges and opportunities in the global economy.