US vs France: In which country do you pay the most taxes?

Company tax comparison

Obviously, all countries have a different way of calculating taxes, and different tax segments. Therefore, to compare these two countries, let’s take the salaries of someone who gains 28 000 € a year (about 33 000 $), 45 000 € a year (about 53 000 $), and 113 000 € a year (about 132 500 $), and see how much they have left after taxes in each country.

In France:

Gross SalaryAfter TaxTax rate
28 000 €19 294 €31.8%
45 000 €26 616 €41.2%
113 000 €45 945 €59.4%

In the US:

Taxes in the US depend on the state you live in, so these numbers may vary. However, we chose to take New York as our comparison point, because taxes are relatively high there.

Gross SalaryAfter TaxTax rate
28 000 €22 548 €20.3%
45 000 €34 266 €24.3%
113 000 €74 463 €34.2%

At first glance, French taxes look like they’re insanely high, and that it’s just better to live in the US. However, that’s not completely true.

You see, France makes a very clear distinction between Taxes and Social contributions. Basically, this is how much money you’ve got leftover after paying your taxes and contributing for social benefits, such as unemployment insurance, retirement plans, healthcare, etc. If we were to only take taxes into consideration, these rates would be much closer, and French people might actually pay a little less depending on the category.

So what does that mean?

In the US, the average American spends more than 10 000 $ on healthcare alone, and if you spend that much, you have less money leftover unless you gain more than about 100 000 € a year. Not to mention, the French is having one of the best health service in the world, while the US system receives criticism from basically every political party.

And keep in mind, that’s not even counting all the other social benefits the French have such as free tuition, unemployment coverage, retirement, etc.

Conclusion

Overall, it’s not that taxes are high in France; it’s that social contributions are added to them. In fact, unless you’re extremely rich, you’re likely to have more money left over to spend for yourself in France than in the US. The main difference is that in France, it’s mandatory to contribute to social benefits, while it’s up to your preference in the US. So really, one could say that you spend less in France than in the US.