During the transition of the central planned economies to the market system unemployment has become one of the most serious problems. The article describes the current state of unemployment in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Using models of marginal effective tax rates developed by the OECD we discuss the influence of wage taxation, social security contributions and the benefit system on taxpayers’ incomes and therefore on the motivation to work. The first part describes alternative indicators for measuring taxation of labor, analyses the methodology of measuring marginal effective tax rates and shows the calculated results. The next part discuses the influence of these effective tax rates and benefit systems on the taxpayers’ net incomes and analyses possibilities of poverty traps for households, especially for low-wage taxpayers. The results show that efforts to reduce poverty hardly reduced work incentives in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
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