The tax burden borne by Greeks in 2006 was the lowest in the eurozone but has been rising at one of the fastest rates among the 15 member states, according to Eurostat. Greece’s weighted tax to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio, which measures the overall tax and social security burden as a percentage of GDP, came to 31.4 percent in 2006, up from 29.4 percent in 1996. The eurozone average stood at 40.5 percent in 2006. Four countries – Spain, Cyprus, Malta and Portugal – recorded a higher increase in the respective tax figures. In the European Union, tax levels remain higher than those of the USA and Japan by some 12 percentage points, according to Eurostat. «The tax burden varies significantly among member states, from as low as 30 percent in Romania, Slovakia and Lithuania in 2006. The highest increases were observed in Cyprus and Malta,» it added.