New Zealand fares pretty well in this new OECD report on tax wedges. The OECD measures the average and marginal tax and social security burden on employment income.
The average tax wedge in New Zealand is much lower the OECD average and also below that in Oz. A single person on the average wage has a 16.4% tax burden in NZ; the burden in Oz is 27.2%. A single parent with two kids on 67% of the average wage has a -18.4% tax burden as Working for Families (our EITC, targeted at low to middle income workers with children) makes the average labour tax burden strongly negative: the worker takes home rather more than his or her employer pays out, though he’ll then go on to pay 15% GST on all purchases.
Some of our marginal tax wedges are less pretty: abatement rates for Working for Families make a mess of effective marginal tax rates for workers on half the average salary, and fairly high for those in middle-income ranges.
Counting consumption taxes would make New Zealand look worse relative to the US, but much of Europe relies heavily on consumption taxes as well.
Scrolling your mouse pointer over other countries should let you compare New Zealand with other OECD countries. If your RSS feed strips out the chart, hit it here.