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Germans: We don't mind paying taxes

Alexander Pearson
January 3, 2019

A new study has found that many Germans think that there is widespread acceptance for financing government spending through taxes. People in Brazil and Montenegro are far more skeptical about their fellow citizens.

A German tax return form
Image: picture-alliance/imageBROKER/M. Weber

People in Germany believe their fellow citizens are happier to pay taxes for public spending than people in many other countries, a United Nations-backed study has found.

The news comes as lawmakers call on the German government to increase public investment or cut taxes amid a budget surplus.

Read more: Germany's tax burden second-highest among rich countries

Germans and Brazilians a world apart:

The Switzerland-based Basel Institute of Commons and Economics published the scores of 14 countries on how willing people thought their fellow citizens were on a scale of 1-10 to spend tax money on infrastructure, healthcare, education and other goods:

  • Germany: 7.0
  • Cambodia: 6.7
  • Austria: 6.4
  • Kosovo: 5.6
  • Bangladesh: 5.5

The remaining countries were: Pakistan: 5.2; Afghanistan: 5.2; Nepal: 4.9; Bosnia Herzegovina: 4.7; Albania: 4.5; Serbia: 4.1; Montenegro: 3.9; Brazil: 3.4; and Macedonia: 3.2.

Read more: German man pretends his dog is a sheep to save taxes

Should Germany tax sugar?

How were the scores calculated? The institute calculated the national score based on a survey of more than 16,000 respondents in 141 countries, Alexander Dill, the director of the institute, told DW. Respondents were asked to each score their own country on whether "people accept taxes and contributions to finance public goods" between 1 and 10.

What will the data be used for? The institute conducted the study over three years on behalf of the United Nations to ascertain peoples' acceptance for spending public money on the global body's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It plans to publish the results of all countries surveyed in March.

Calls for investment: Strong economic growth and low unemployment helped Germany record a €48.1 billion budget surplus in the first six months of 2018. That favorable position has split political opinion on what the government should do with the extra cash. Lawmakers from the Greens and the Left Party want more investment, while center-right lawmakers from the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) want tax cuts.

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