In the end, the average Belgian is well-off

Belgian wage-earners are confronted with a high income tax, but the purchasing power is fine compared to other countries. This is because Belgium is scoring well in other parameters apart from tax pressure, a report published by De Tijd shows. The research was done by Deloitte and involved 17 European countries.

A yearly income of 50,000 euros before tax leaves employees across Europe with a different sum to spend after tax (this is a list involving Belgium and its neighbouring countries):

  • Luxemburg: 40,300 euros
  • France: 37,300
  • United Kingdom: 36,200
  • Germany: 32,700
  • Belgium: 32,300
  • Netherlands: 31,600

Belgium is last-but-one on the list, just before the Netherlands. However, this is not the end of the story. In order to get the whole picture, researchers of Deloitte also took into account other factors. Belgian mothers can count on a higher child benefit than in many other European countries, and they have to spend less on their house, whether they rent it or pay a mortgage after becoming a house owner. In many cases, shopping is also cheaper than in neighbouring countries. Taking all these parameters into account, we get a completely different list concerning purchasing power.

Luxembourg still heads the list, but it is followed by Belgium and Germany. The U.K. loses a lot of places and is bottom-of-the-table (the complete of the 17 European countries involved puts Poland on top):

  • Luxembourg 39,200
  • Belgium 36,000
  • Germany 35,800
  • Netherlands 28,200
  • France 26,400
  • United Kingdom 19,300

Belgian wage-earners are well-off, it turns out. This is despite the fact that the study didn't take into account our cheap education system. Belgium also has scholarships as from secondary education,  whereas students have to take out loans in other countries.

The conclusion

Patrick Derthoo sums up the main conclusion: "The tax burden in Belgium is huge. This has to with social security, high minimum wages and the wage indexation system. However, housing is cheap and life is relatively cheap. The feeling is sometimes different, but if we compare ourselves to other European countries, we are not doing too badly."