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The comprehensive comparison of the taxation between different countries might be hindered by the fact that tax laws in most countries are extremely complex, and tax burden falls differently on different groups in each country and sub-national unit. Still, to enable cross-country comparison one can use the highest rates for each of the following tax types in each country:

  • Corporate tax rate (tax on corporations);
  • Indirect tax rate (for example, sales tax);
  • Individual income tax rate (tax imposed on individuals);
  • Social security rates (on employer and employee).

The highest corporate tax rate among the 120 countries surveyed by KPMG is recorded in the United Arab Emirates, where corporations should pay 55 percent of their operating profit as a tax. However, this tax is only enforced on foreign oil companies. Malta, Zambia, and Argentina share the second position with a top tax rate of 35 percent that is 11 percentage points higher than the average for all 120 countries. In contrast, Montenegro has the lowest rate in the world of 9 percent, while the only major industrialized nation among the bottom 20 countries is Ireland, which is known for its low 12.5 percent rate.

There are currently 7 countries in the world without a corporate income tax. All these income tax-free countries are small island nations: the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Bonaire, Isle of Man, Guernsey, and Bahrain. The latter, meanwhile, while not having general corporate income tax has a targeted corporate income tax on oil companies.

Overall, North America’s average corporate income tax rate of 33.25 percent is the highest among all regions. Europe has the lowest average tax rate at 20.48 percent, 3.15 percentage points below the worldwide average of 23.63 percent. Larger, more industrialized countries tend to have higher corporate income tax rates than the world as a whole. For example, the 35 nations of the OECD have an average corporate tax rate of 24.85 percent.

Over the past eight years, countries across the globe have reduced in average their corporation tax rates. Thus, if in 2006, the worldwide average was approximately 27.5 percent, by 2016, the average rate had declined by roughly 4 percentage points to 23.6 percent. This downward trend held across all regions of the globe. Asia saw the largest absolute drop in the average corporate tax rate, that declined from 29 percent in 2006 to 22 percent in 2016. Countries of Latin America, in turn, reduced their corporate income tax rates the least, from 29 to 27.3 percent.

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