Average tax levels in Italy grew from 41.3 percent in 2000 to 42.5 percent in 2011, the agency said.
Meanwhile, the average rate in Sweden, where taxpayers receive favourable social benefits in return for their high contributions, actually fell from 51.7 percent in 2000 to 44.7 percent in 2012.
Taxes in Italy might be almost as high as in Sweden, but the main gripe among Italians is that they don't get the same high standard of services in return, whether that be in healthcare, education or public transport. READ MORE HERE: 'Taxes in Italy are on a par with Sweden'
Istat’s report, called Noi Italia, also revealed that just 61 percent of Italians between the ages of 20 and 64 have jobs, well below the 75 percent employment level stipulated by the European Union, had jobs in 2012.
Women fared the worst, with just 50.5 percent – one of the worst rates in Europe – being in work in 2012, while 71.6 percent of working-age men were employed.
Italy also has one of the highest rates in Europe – 52.5 percent – of people in long-term employment, defined as those who are jobless for at least a year, compared to the European average of 44.4 percent.
Most of those in long-term unemployment are in the south (59.8 percent), while 37.6 percent are in the north.
Istat also said that almost one in four Italian households are “deprived”, defined as not being able to meet sudden expenses, being behind in loan payments or being unable to afford a high-protein meal at least once every two days.
Italy's economy stopped contracting in the third quarter of 2013, technically bringing to an end its longest post-war recession, but it is still struggling with an unemployment crisis and rising debt and deficit levels.
Figures released by the Bank of Italy on Monday in January revealed that the rate of poverty rose from 12 percent to 14 percent between 2010 and 2012, while half of Italian families live on less than €2,000 a month.