Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mix-Up Monday: The Too Complicated World of Tax

The plan today was to discuss tax in Germany versus the USA. Since it is tax season, the hope was to start with income tax and then go into other topics from there. The problem is that IT IS COMPLICATED! Too complicated to be fun to go into on a Monday night (especially when brain power needs to be saved for the pub quiz later tonight).

Overall lesson (in her point of view) - Americans, stop complaining! Personal income tax in America is quite reasonable. Yes, there are some downsides (when you make a ton of money and live in a different country you end up getting taxed twice - and we mean a TON of money, fewer taxes means fewer social services, probably some other things can be listed here too), but for the most part, personal income tax in the USA is low(ish).

On the other hand, if you own a company, Germany might be the place to be (when speaking about taxation). Corporate taxes in the USA are on average higher than they are in Germany.

Value Added Tax - You know, that tax that shows up at the bottom of your receipt - is also much higher in Germany than in the USA. 19% is the average in Germany, except for certain products such as certain foods, flowers, and books. When she lived in Maryland, the sales tax (there is no federal VAT tax in the USA so sales tax basically takes its place) was only 5% and she thought it was crazy that in California it was over 8%. Now that does not seem so bad to her. Again, like in Germany, certain foods and products are exempt from this sales tax or are taxed at a lower rate.

The point is, it is all a matter of perspective. Are you okay with paying more in taxes if that means the government has more to put toward social systems? Do you want to clearly see how much tax is added (the reason why sales tax is added at the register in the US instead of being included in the price you see) or do you only care about how much you are paying in the end? Like they say, you can only be sure of two things, death and taxes. We can guarantee you that is true for both the USA and Germany!

~Now after doing lots of research online her head is spinning. Federal tax, state tax, tax for this, tax for that. This is just a general guideline. Actual tax brackets will vary by place and circumstances, meaning for each person/company, what country may be "lower" or "better" depends on that company/person's situation.~

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