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Taxes on Belgian Workers’ Salaries Reach New Low

Media release

Brussels, 17 July 2018 – Today, Belgian workers can celebrate their “Tax Liberation Day” 10 days earlier than last year, according to the upcoming publication of 9th edition of The Tax Burden of Typical Workers in the EU.

This dramatic change is the result of the continuing implementation of the Michel government’s “tax shift”. These changes have significantly reduced the cost of hiring employees in Belgium (where unemployment is at its lowest rate since the inception of the study), while having little impact on worker’s buying power.


Key findings – Belgium

• After being the most expensive employees in the EU for several years, Belgians are now the 4th-most expensive to hire (after Luxembourgers, Austrians and the Dutch) – yet Belgians still rank 11th in take-home pay.

• An employer in Belgium now spends 2.04€ for a typical worker to net 1€ after taxes – down from a peak of 2.34€ in 2013.

• The Belgian government collects 29,233€ from a typical Belgian worker’s wages – still among the 3 highest figures in Europe – yet it does not deliver services at this level. Among EU countries, Belgium ranks:

o 6th in the 2017 Health Consumer Powerhouse rankings of health care systems

o 11th in reading, 9th in Science, and 6th in mathematics in the OECD’s PISA rankings of educational systems

o 9th in the 2018 United Nations’ World Happiness Report

Quote from co-author James Rogers:

“The ‘tax shift’ is having a noticeable impact on the Belgian economy: unemployment is down, and there is greater flexibility in the labour market. However, it is Belgian employers who are seeing the primary benefit – Belgians workers should hope for the same in the coming years.”

“Tax Liberation Day” is the calendar day on which a worker theoretically stops working to pay taxes to the state and begins to keep his/her earnings. The data in the calendar reflect the reality experienced by real, working people in the European Union and the true cost of hiring employees in each state.

The study, by James Rogers and Cécile Philippe of Institut économique Molinari, uses OECD and national statistics office salary figures for as a baseline. Payroll tax calculations are made by EY.

Note to editors: The Institut économique Molinari (IEM) is an independent, non-profit research and educational organization. Its mission is to promote an economic approach to the study of public policy issues by offering innovative solutions that foster prosperity for all.

For more information please contact the authors of the study:

James Rogers

Research Fellow-Institut économique Molinari

+ 32 497 946 840

Cécile Philippe

Director – Institut économique Molinari

+33 678 869 858

L’Institut économique Molinari

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