The average German pays an enormous amount of taxes and duties throughout his or her entire life. Hardly any other country has a similarly high tax burden in an industrialized country comparison. However, a new calculation shows that on average citizens even achieve a plus – thanks to state transfer payments.

Since this Wednesday, West German employees have finally been working for themselves. At least when it comes to the German Taxpayers’ Association (BdSt). Today is Taxpayer Memorial Day. This marks the point at which employees no longer work for taxes and levies, but for their own pockets.

According to the taxpayers’ association, only 47 cents remain for every euro earned. Accordingly, Germans work more than half of the year just for the taxes. “Citizens have to work longer and longer for public funds,” is the verdict of the taxpayers’ association on this year’s taxpayer commemoration day.

Measures have been taken to dampen the increase in the so-called burden rate of currently 53 percent. “But that happened far too massively in the wrong places and far too little in the right places,” criticizes the club. What is meant are, for example, the tank discount and the EEG surcharge, a “quasi tax” because it does not apply to citizens, but is now paid by the federal government with tax revenue.

In view of the record inflation, the traffic light must “improve noticeably”, demands the taxpayers’ association. One option is the reduction of the cold progression. “The goal must be a tax burden below the 50 percent mark,” says the taxpayers’ association, “because responsible citizens should be able to freely dispose of more than half of their income.”

However, the taxes and duties paid do not simply disappear into thin air. The state pays pensions, child benefits and unemployment benefits and maintains the public infrastructure. “For some, the tax burden is a scandal in an international comparison, others see it as a strong welfare state,” commented the interest portal “Weltsparen” on the occasion of the taxpayer commemoration day.

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In fact, according to an OECD study, Germans pay significantly more than citizens in other industrialized countries – namely 51.9 percent of their income, while the OECD average is only 44.6 percent. But: Viewed over an entire life, there is even a small plus for the citizen. This is shown by a calculation by “Weltsparen”.

In total, a German pays an average of around 814,000 euros in taxes and duties in his lifetime. According to “Weltsparen”, the average lifetime income is just under 1.9 million euros, resulting in an average burden rate of just 43.1 percent. Not surprisingly, by far the largest part of the tax burden is made up of income tax and the solidarity surcharge, at almost 36 percent of all taxes. This is followed by value added tax and health and pension insurance.

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On the other hand, even more money flows back to the employees via state transfer payments. In total, the average German receives more than 867,000 euros in state benefits in his life – above all pensions and pensions, but also six-digit amounts in the areas of health and school education.

The bottom line is that there is a surplus in favor of taxpayers. “If you look at the status quo of redistribution through taxes and levies, there is even an average plus of 53,738 euros in transfers and state benefits in kind over a person’s entire lifetime,” sums up “Weltsparen”.

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There is one factor in particular for this plus: the pay-as-you-go pension system, which has had to be subsidized with more than 100 billion euros in tax money every year since 2020. “The trend is rising”, according to “Weltsparen”.

Although the values ​​are averages and, for example, a childless single person who has been employed for his entire professional life is in all probability not a net beneficiary of the calculation, the calculation also shows that if the state gives more on average than he takes, then he has to get money elsewhere.

But the state does one thing above all: debt. Thanks to its top credit rating, the Federal Republic can finance itself comparatively cheaply on the capital market. Nevertheless, in absolute terms and per capita, ever larger sums are accumulating. The Association of Taxpayers documents this conscientiously. Most recently, the national debt was more than 2.36 trillion euros, around 28,400 euros per capita. And per second it will be 4900 euros more.