[ tak-sey-shuhn ]
/ tækˈseɪ ʃən /
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the act of taxing.
the fact of being taxed.
a tax imposed.
the revenue raised by taxes.
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Origin of taxation

1250–1300; <Medieval Latin taxātiōn- (stem of taxātiō) an appraising (see tax, -ation); replacing Middle English taxacioun<Anglo-French <Medieval Latin, as above


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is taxation?

Taxation is the act of making people and organizations pay taxes.

Taxation is how a government collects money (taxes) in order to financially support itself. Governments use the money collected from citizens to pay for welfare programs, the military, roads and bridges, government employees, science programs, public schools, and the many other services a government is responsible for. Almost every country on Earth has some form of taxation system.

Taxation is not voluntary, even if the taxpayer doesn’t directly benefit from the tax they pay. You cannot refuse to pay taxes without consequences. In most countries, you will be jailed or suffer another punishment for not paying taxes.

Why is taxation important?

The first records of the word taxation come from around 1250. It comes from the Medieval Latin taxātiōn, meaning “an appraising.”

The idea of taxation, however, is very old, going back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, though the system was much different. From ancient Greece through the Middle Ages, taxation often took the form of tithes, meaning a landowner would give a portion of their harvest to the government. Indirect taxing of sales and trade was more common, and direct taxes were often only imposed on the wealthy.

If you know your American history, you know that taxation played a large role in the creation of the United States. Famously, the American colonists refused any “taxation without representation.” They argued that they should not have to pay taxes to the British government when they were not represented by any members of Parliament. The British government disagreed, and the argument eventually resulted in the American Revolutionary War.

Did you know … ?

Some countries make enough money from other sources that their citizens don’t pay any income tax at all. For example, the United Arab Emirates funds the government through the taxation of oil sales and banking, while Bermuda supports itself through employer payroll taxes and land taxes.

What are real-life examples of taxation?

Unsurprisingly, taxation is very unpopular with the people who must actually pay taxes.


Quiz yourself!

True or False?

The main reason for taxation is the government’s need to collect money in order to finance itself.

How to use taxation in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for taxation

/ (tækˈseɪʃən) /

the act or principle of levying taxes or the condition of being taxed
  1. an amount assessed as tax
  2. a tax rate
revenue from taxes

Derived forms of taxation

taxational, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for taxation


A government's practice of collecting money from citizens and businesses within its domain to support its operations.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.