Is 28% of GDP too much to pay in taxes?

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A former soccer teammate of mine had this to say about my posts a couple of weeks back about the constancy of the tax burden over the past half century or so. (The federal tax burden is around 18.5% of GDP, which is about the average for the post-war era, while the combined federal, state and local burden is 28.8%, a couple of percentage points above the average.)

To me 28% of GDP is a big number. On the federal side, doesn’t the consistent 18% of GDP taken in taxes demonstrate inefficiency? Haven’t many other things such as food and clothing decreased as a percentage of what we spend? Many other things that are getting more expensive such as housing can at least be said to have improved in size and or quality (unless you live in NYC, ha ha.)

The size of our country’s tax bill is a tremendous burden. Compare 28% of
your gross income with your other top expenses. For the last several years
our taxes have been our single largest expense. There is nothing on which we
spend more than we do on taxes and it is not even close. …

All of this is meant to add some meaning to the numbers in your graph. Our
taxes have a huge effect on what we can spend on other big ticket items. We
would be much more powerful consumers, savers and investors with a lower tax
burden. I suspect that this is true throughout the economy.