Definition of tax in US English:



  • 1A compulsory contribution to state revenue, levied by the government on workers' income and business profits, or added to the cost of some goods, services, and transactions.

    • ‘Corporations often negotiate down their tax liability in disputed transactions.’
    • ‘Thus a tax on rent may represent a violation of justice while a tax on other incomes does not.’
    • ‘Doing so will decrease their total tax bill on personal income when compared to reasonable salary levels.’
    • ‘A carbon tax is a tax on the use of energy.’
    • ‘So you will not have to pay tax on the expenses that are reimbursed to you, and the company will be able to allow the costs against its tax.’
    • ‘Second, lower prices for gasoline and other fuels are acting like a giant tax cut for both consumers and businesses.’
    • ‘In short, the income tax was not initially a tax on wages, nor on the working class.’
    • ‘Both opposed income taxes, excise taxes, and taxes on wealth in general.’
    • ‘All local governments in Kenya have taxing authority, including the right to levy a tax on property.’
    • ‘Reliable means exist to project the potential revenue of existing taxes in this business cycle.’
    • ‘The empirical results indicate that a tax cut produces revenue and incentives to save.’
    • ‘Under the current method rates are increasingly becoming a wealth tax or a tax on assets held in the form of land.’
    • ‘The revenue from a tax on oil companies would then be passed directly to the motorist through cuts in fuel duty.’
    • ‘More than two-thirds of those surveyed said higher-income workers should pay tax on all their wages.’
    • ‘There is nothing in the Constitution to prevent the States collecting their own income taxes (or taxes on services).’
    • ‘The administration established tariffs, which amounts to a tax on all consumers of steel.’
    • ‘Clearly, lower taxes reinforced the spending splurge that generated the explosion in indirect tax receipts allowing taxes to be cut further.’
    • ‘The general property tax was thus a tax on rent of land and the interest from its associated capital.’
    • ‘It would have replaced the corporate income tax with a tax on the net return to capital for all businesses.’
    • ‘Increase the progressivity of the federal income tax, and finance Medicare through increased sin taxes, gas taxes, and general revenue.’
    levy, tariff, duty, toll, excise, impost, contribution, assessment, tribute, tithe, charge, fee
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  • 2in singular A strain or heavy demand.

    ‘a heavy tax on the reader's attention’
    • ‘The only tax on the reader's mind is to remember as many facts as possible.’
    burden, load, weight, encumbrance, demand, strain, pressure, stress, drain, imposition
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[with object]
  • 1Impose a tax on (someone or something)

    ‘hardware and software is taxed at 7.5 percent’
    • ‘Your taxable lump sum is taxed at your marginal rate of tax, either 20 per cent or 42 per cent.’
    • ‘Under current law, such withdrawals are taxed at the student's tax rate.’
    • ‘Profits from unincorporated businesses are taxed at 15 percent.’
    • ‘My understanding is that I am then taxed at my marginal rate of income tax on any capital gain.’
    • ‘This can represent a significant tax saving, compared with an ordinary share option scheme where the option is generally exempt, but the gain is taxed at income tax rates.’
    • ‘If one partner leaves the other his estate, it is taxed at the full death tax rate.’
    • ‘At the end of five years, only interest earned and capital gains are taxed at 23 per cent, in line with the tax treatment of other investment funds.’
    • ‘In Ireland, a capital gain is generally taxed at 20 per cent, with the first £1,000 being exempt.’
    • ‘At present, land is taxed at a higher rate than improvements only in the counties of Hawaii and Kauai.’
    • ‘I am a full-time engineering student and even my part-time work at a local supermarket is taxed at 50 per cent.’
    • ‘Dividends are taxed at your ordinary income tax rate.’
    • ‘Owners of second homes who do not live permanently on the island are taxed at £2,060 a year for houses of up to 2,153 sq ft within two miles of the shore.’
    • ‘Otherwise the profits are taxed at the full rate.’
    • ‘In companies like ours, the profit is taxed at the corporation rate.’
    • ‘If your fund is worth more than the limit you could in future be taxed at 25% of the excess taken as income, or 55% on a lump sum.’
    • ‘Interest income and short-term capital gains are still taxed at rates up to 35%.’
    • ‘All the business' earnings and profits are taxed at the personal level of the shareholders/owners.’
    • ‘When you invest corporately, your earnings are initially taxed at very high rates.’
    • ‘I'd venture to guess that every form of income is taxed at least twice, and maybe three or four times.’
    • ‘Chip sales are taxed at 17 per cent in China, but local manufacturers can claim up to 14 per cent of the levy back.’
    levy a tax on, impose a toll on, charge duty on, exact a tax on, demand a tax on
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  • 2Make heavy demands on (someone's powers or resources)

    ‘she knew that the ordeal to come would tax all her strength’
    • ‘His battle with nature will end up taxing all his resourcefulness and overturning his usual elegance.’
    • ‘With resources taxed and false rumors howling, misinformation was rarely spread by the news media.’
    • ‘You will definitely have to earn it, though, because I will often tax every physical and mental resource that you possess.’
    • ‘The need to properly categorize, inventory and secure the massive number of garments and shoes must have taxed their resources and creativity.’
    • ‘The transition to a 3D world certainly taxes the Xbox's power but the game world is particularly vacuous.’
    • ‘The influx of refugees and displaced persons taxed the already stretched resources of States.’
    • ‘Second, the solution did not tax an already overburdened division transportation resource.’
    • ‘Suffice to say, China will tax both the group's idealism and its stamina.’
    • ‘And director Jasper Bagg takes on the title role with energy and commitment, though sometimes its sheer weight seems to be taxing his powers to the limit.’
    • ‘The problem of what to do with clapped-out electronic equipment continues to tax the EU's best minds.’
    • ‘I am not condoning corporal punishment but some sympathy must go out to the teacher whose patience must have been taxed to the limit and which seems to have snapped.’
    • ‘Radeschi said the community's resources have been taxed by dealing with troubled youth.’
    strain, stretch, put a strain on, make demands on, weigh heavily on, weigh down
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  • 3Confront (someone) with a fault or wrongdoing.

    ‘why are you taxing me with these preposterous allegations?’
    • ‘Tax me with my crimes!’
    confront, accuse, call to account, charge, blame, censure, condemn, denounce
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  • 4Law
    Examine and assess (the costs of a case).

    • ‘It was not the case for either side that I should split the issue into parts and so resolve the position, nor was it the case that I should attempt to tax or assess the costs.’
    • ‘Where the outcome of the Legal Proceedings is not a Success the Insurer shall have the right to have the Insured's Solicitor's bills taxed or assessed on the standard basis.’
    • ‘The applicant is to pay the costs of the respondent of the summons on an indemnity basis, such costs to be taxed forthwith.’
    • ‘Pursuant to that order the defendants taxed their costs and applied for payment, despite the fact that the action had not been determined.’
    • ‘It was decided to do this by ordering those costs to be taxed on the indemnity basis.’


Middle English (also in the sense ‘estimate or determine the amount of a penalty or damages’, surviving in tax (sense 4 of the verb)): from Old French taxer, from Latin taxare ‘to censure, charge, compute’, perhaps from Greek tassein ‘fix’.