Once you earn around EUR 40,000 per year, you are in the highest tax bracket. Assume you earn that much. Now assume that your employer pays you a EUR 1,000 bonus for good performance. First, the employer needs to pay his share of social security (health, pension, unemployment) - around 35% of gross - so the cost of the bonus to the employer is actually EUR 1,350. Then you pay your share of social security (around 13% of gross), so your before income taxes is EUR 870. You then pay 50% income tax, which leaves you with EUR 435 initially, but actually city taxes are around 8% of the income tax paid, so you pay another EUR 35 for that. This means that your net income is EUR 400. You then go to the shop and buy a new TV for EUR 400. The shop pays 21% VAT, so they only get EUR 316. To sum up: in order for buy a TV worth EUR 316, your employer needs to pay EUR 1,350. So based on income tax, social security and VAT only (there are of course more types of taxes), 77% of the money paid by an employer goes to the state. Of course, the state provides valuable services, but I find the magnitude of this number shockingly high!