Legal Definition and Related Resources of Tax

Meaning of Tax

An impost , a tribute imposed upon the subject . A compulsory imposition by competent authority on the subjects. there can be no option on the part of the taxpayer to pay or not to pay a tax. An enforced contribution to provide for the support of the government . United States v Tax Commissioner of Mississippi, 421 U.S. 599, 95 S. Ct. 1872. The essential elements of a tax are (1) it must be enforceable by law; (2) imposed by a public body under legislative authority for a public purpose; and (3) the payment of it is compulsory. Tax is to be distinguished from a fee paid or payable to a public official to defray the cost of the services rendered, such as a fee payable to a Land registrar upon the registration of a document. Taxes may be either direct or indirect. A direct tax is one that is payable by the very person who it is intended or desired should pay same. An indirect tax is a tax payable by a person who has the right to indemnify himself or collect the same from another. See Foster & C. Co. v Graham, 154 Tenn. 412, 285 S. W. 570. taxation is a legislative function entrusted to Congress. When dealing with proper domestic concerns and not trenching upon the prerogatives of the national government, or violating the guarantees of the federal constitution , the States have wide discretion in laying of their taxes and have the attribute of sovereign powers in devising their fiscal systems to insure revenue and foster a local interest . See Lehnhausen v Lake shore Auto Parts Co., 410 U.S. 356,93 S. Ct. 1001.

Tax Alternative Definition

A contribution Imposed by government on individuals for the service of the state. 13 Pa. St. 104; 115 111. 109. It is distinguished from a subsidy, as being certain and orderly. Jacob. A sum of money assessed under the authority of the state on the personal property of an individual for the use of the state. 60 Me. 124. It is distinguished from a local assessment, as being imposed without reference to peculiar benefits to particular individuals or property. 84 N. Y. 108; 22 Minn. 494. See “Special Assessment.” “Excise” and “impost” are sometimes used as synonymous with “tax,” but in strictness apply only to taxes upon production or consumption, and upon imports, respectively. Taxes are either:
(1) Direct or indirect, direct being those assessed on the property, person, business, etc., of those who are to pay them, and indirect being a tax levied on commodities before they reach the consumer. Cooley, Tax’n, 6.
(2) Ad valorem or specific, ad valorem being those imposed in proportion to value, and specific those consisting of a fixed sum imposed upon an article or thing by name.
(3) General or local, general being those imposed on property throughout the state, and local being those imposed on the locality specially benefitted. Taxes are also classified according to the nature of the property on which they are imposed, as income taxes, inheritance taxes, personal property taxes, etc.

Synonyms of Tax

(Levy), verb

  • assess
  • collect
  • exact
  • lay a duty
  • require

(Overwork), verb

  • burden
  • cumber
  • debilitate
  • deplete
  • deprive of strength
  • disable
  • drain
  • encumber
  • enervate
  • exact
  • fatigue
  • load
  • make excessive demands
  • oppress
  • overexercise
  • overexert
  • overfatigue
  • overload
  • overstrain
  • overtire
  • overuse
  • push too far
  • require
  • saddle with
  • strain
  • task
  • tire out
  • tyrannize
  • use hard
  • weaken
  • wear down
  • wear out
  • weary
  • weigh down


  • assessment
  • capitation
  • charge
  • dues
  • duty
  • exaction
  • exactment
  • excise
  • imposition
  • impost
  • levy
  • pollage
  • portorium
  • scot
  • tariff
  • taxation
  • tithe
  • toll
  • tribute
  • vectigal
  • Associated Concepts: action for taxes
  • ad valorem tax
  • apportionment of taxes
  • back taxes
  • collection of taxes
  • current tax
  • delinquent tax
  • direct tax
  • discriminatory tax
  • double taxation
  • estate tax
  • evasion of taxation
  • excess profits tax
  • excessive tax
  • excise tax
  • federal estate tax
  • federal taxes
  • franchise tax
  • general tax
  • graduated tax
  • income tax
  • indirect tax
  • inheritance tax
  • land tax
  • levy a tax
  • personal tax
  • power of taxation
  • power to tax
  • progressive tax
  • property tax
  • proportional tax
  • regulatory tax
  • retroactive tax
  • sales tax
  • tax anticipation note
  • tax assessor
  • tax deed
  • tax district
  • taxlientax roll
  • tax sale
  • tax title
  • tax warrants
  • taxpayer
  • transfer tax
  • withholding taxes

Related Entries of Tax in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

Browse or run a search for Tax in the American Encyclopedia of Law, the Asian Encyclopedia of Law, the European Encyclopedia of Law, the UK Encyclopedia of Law or the Latin American and Spanish Encyclopedia of Law.

Tax in Historical Law

You might be interested in the historical meaning of this term. Browse or search for Tax in Historical Law in the Encyclopedia of Law.

Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abbreviations containing Tax in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary.

Related Legal Terms

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Resource Description
Tax in the Dictionary Tax in our legal dictionaries
Browse the Legal Thesaurus Find synonyms and related words of Tax
Legal Maxims Maxims are established principles that jurists use as interpretive tools, invoked more frequently in international law
Legal Answers (Q&A) A community-driven knowledge creation process, of enduring value to a broad audience
Related topics Tax in the World Encyclopedia of Law


This definition of Tax is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

Vocabularies (Semantic Web Information)


Resource Description
Topic Map A group of names, occurrences and associations
Topic Tree A topic display format, showing the hierarchy
Sitemap Index Sitemap Index, including Taxonomies The URI of Tax (more about URIs)

Tax in the Dictionary of Law consisting of Judicial Definitions and Explanations of Words, Phrases and Maxims

French taxer: Latin taxare, to handle, appraise. 1, v. To assess, adjust, fix, determine: as, to tax the items and the amount of the costs in a case. Whence re-tax. 2, n. A charge, a pecuniary burden, for the support of government. United States v. Baltimore & Ohio R. Co., 17 Wall. 326 (1872), Hunt, J. A tax is not a “debt,” that is, an obligation for the payment of money founded upon contract. It is an impost levied for the support of government, or for some special purpose authorized by it. The consent of the taxpayer is not necessary to its enforcement: it operated in invitum. The form of procedure to collect, as an action of debt, does not change its character. Meriwether v. Garrett, 102 U.S. 513-15 (1880), Field, J. The power is the strongest, most pervading one of government. “The power to tax is the power to destroy.” McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 431 (1819), Marshall, C.J. A tax is not a lien unless made so by statute. Mandamus will compel a levy. But a court of equity has no jurisdiction to appoint a collector or receivor, by mandamus. Thompson v. Allen County, 115 U.S. 550 (1885). An assessment of a tax is invalid, if, being laid upon different kinds of property not legally assessable, the part assessed upon the latter property not being separated from the other part. Santa Clara Co. v. Southern Pacific R. Co., 118 U.S. 410, 416 (1886), cases.

Note: This legal definition of Tax in the Dictionary of Law (English and American Jurisprudence) is from 1893.

Tax in Law Enforcement

Main Entry: Law Enforcement in the Legal Dictionary. This section provides, in the context of Law Enforcement, a partial definition of tax.


This term is a noun.

Etimology of Tax

(You may find tax at the world legal encyclopedia and the etimology of more terms).

early 14c., “obligatory contribution levied by a sovereign or government,” from Anglo-French tax, Old French taxe, and directly from Medieval Latin taxa, from Latin taxare (see tax (verb)). Related: Taxes. Tax-deduction is from 1942; tax-shelter is attested from 1961.


This term is a verb.

Etimology of Tax

(You may find tax at the world legal encyclopedia and the etimology of more terms).

c. 1300, “impose a tax on,” from Old French taxer “impose a tax” (13c.) and directly from Latin taxare “evaluate, estimate, assess, handle,” also “censure, charge,” probably a frequentative form of tangere “to touch,” from PIE root *tag- “to touch, handle.” Sense of “to burden, put a strain on” first recorded early 14c.; that of “censure, reprove” is from 1560s. Its use in Luke ii for Greek apographein “to enter on a list, enroll” is due to Tyndale. Related: Taxed; taxing.


Legal English Vocabulary: Tax in Spanish

Online translation of the English legal term tax into Spanish: impuesto (English to Spanish translation) . More about legal dictionary from english to spanish online.

Related to the Legal Thesaurus


See Also

  • Law Enforcement Officer
  • Police
  • Law Enforcement Agency

Further Reading

Inflation Tax in the Economic Activity

An introductory concept of Inflation Tax may be: the decrease in buying power (wealth) that inflation imposes on those who hold currency (and other assets, like bonds, the payments for which are fixed in terms of dollars)

Tax Definition (in the Accounting Vocabulary)

The New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants offers the following definition of Tax in a way that is easy for anybody to understand: Charge levied by a governmental unit on income, consumption, wealth, or other basis.

Estimated Tax Definition (in the Accounting Vocabulary)

The New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants offers the following definition of Estimated Tax in a way that is easy for anybody to understand: Amount of tax LIABILITY a taxpayer may expect to pay for the current tax period. Usually paid through quarterly installments.



See Also

  • Taxation
  • Public Finance
  • Public Policy
  • Tax Law
  • Financial Regulation

Hierarchical Display of Tax

Finance > Taxation

Meaning of Tax

Overview and more information about Tax

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Translation of Tax

Thesaurus of Tax

Finance > Taxation > Tax

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