US residents and companies pay not only federal taxes, but also state and local taxes, different in each state and county. This is one of the factors that complicates the modern American tax system. Another is the multiplicity of federal income tax thresholds. In 2013 there were seven of them. The lowest rate, from an annual income of up to $ 8,925, was 10%, and the highest, from an annual income exceeding 400,000. dollars. - 39.6%. In addition, there is a whole system of write-offs, donations for charity and religious purposes, as well as separate taxes, e.g. on capital gains.
No less complicated is the system of taxes paid by enterprises. In the US, no value added tax (VAT) has been introduced, while staying with the sales tax charged each time the item is sold. For these reasons, in order to know the true level of tax burden in the United States, it is better to look at the effective tax rate indicator rather than the nominal thresholds. It turns out that although corporations should pay tax of up to 40% of revenues, e.g. in 2012 their effective tax rate was only about 12%, and some of the largest corporations - despite millions of profits - did not pay taxes at all. The disclosure of tax declarations by the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney also resounded in 2012. Although, for example, in 2010 he earned about $ 22 million, his effective tax rate was only 14%, and in the years 1990-2010 the maximum effective tax rate he paid was at most 20%.
The high level of complexity of the tax system and historical reluctance to taxes translate into the true national hobby of Americans - avoiding, according to the law and against it, paying them. The Internal Revenue Service - US Tax Office - collects approx. USD 2.4 trillion annually. in taxes and settles approx. 200 million tax returns. However, it only thoroughly checks a small portion of incoming settlements. The temptation to lower income or increase the amount of write-offs due to the low risk of mishaps is very high. People and companies with larger assets - who can afford to use the services of specialists - instead of breaking the law explicitly, subtly exploit the loopholes, e.g. by creating fictitious foundations and companies in tax havens or in countries with very restrictive banking secrecy regulations such as Liechtenstein .
Richard Cebula and Edgar L. Feige, scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, estimated that in 2008 the American tax office lost USD 450-490 billion due to incorrect tax settlement. 100 billion dollars should be added to this amount. lost in taxes on income obtained by persons residing in the USA and companies operating in the United States, but booked in tax havens. This difference between the amount of taxes that should affect if all taxpayers accounted for according to the law, and what actually came in is called a tax gap. In the US, it is more or less stable and amounts to approx. 18-19% of total tax revenues. This is twice as much as in Sweden or Great Britain. The tax gap for businesses is similar to that for individuals. Most often, they avoid paying taxes with assets exceeding $ 10 million.