Germans like to moan that income tax rates are too high. And considering a marginal rate of 44.3 % (42%+Soli) for "higher incomes" and 47.5 % (45%+Soli) for "really high incomes", this sounds plausible.
However, the amazing thing is:
The average tax-rate on labor income is only 10.7 % (as of 2006):
Sum of wages: 1,150 bn €
Sum of income tax deducted from wages: 122.6 bn €
So either most employees don't earn very much, or they deduct lots of stuff from their taxable income...
In any case, the "critical taxable income" for an average tax-rate of 10.7 % is a bit less than 16,000 €. Per year, for a single person with no dependents. Taking into account normal deductions (social security, Werbungspauschbetrag), this equals roughly 21,000 € yearly gross. Or 42,000 € for a married couple with no kids.
I was surprised to learn that tax deductions for kids play a large role: In 2006, total income tax gross of Kindergeld was actually 158.1 bn € (13.7 % of total wages), and 34.9 bn € was deducted for Kindergeld. In other words, the average income tax bill on labor income is reduced by 22 % due to Kindergeld!
(Previous post on change in average tax-rates over last 20 years)
(P.S.: This post was inspired by a vaguely related post on the FDP's tax reform proposal at Der Spiegelfechter)