noun, often attributive
\ ˈtaks \

Definition of tax

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : a charge usually of money imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes
b : a sum levied on members of an organization to defray expenses
2 : a heavy demand


taxed; taxing; taxes

Definition of tax (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to levy a tax on
2 : to make onerous and rigorous demands on the job taxed her strength
3 : charge, accuse taxed him with neglect of duty also : censure
4 : to assess or determine judicially the amount of (costs in a court action)
5 obsolete : to enter (a name) in a list there went out a decree … that all the world should be taxed — Luke 2:1 (King James Version)
variants: or taxo- or less commonly taxi-

Definition of tax- (Entry 3 of 3)

: arrangement taxeme taxidermy

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from tax


taxable \ ˈtak-​sə-​bəl \ adjective
taxer noun

Synonyms for tax

Synonyms: Noun

assessment, duty, imposition, impost, levy

Synonyms: Verb

strain, stretch, test, try

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of tax in a Sentence


The decision was made to raise taxes. He was accused of evading taxes. What was your income before taxes? What is the amount of tax to be paid? What was your income before tax?


He believes in taxing the rich to give to the poor. You are taxed according to your income. puzzles that tax your brain
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The cash prize, according to People, typically carries a $500,000 tax liability. Maya Mcdowell, House Beautiful, "An HGTV Dream Home Giveaway Winner Reveals Why She Never Moved In," 1 Feb. 2019 For a 2016 study, published in JAMA, a group of researchers led by Stanford University economist Raj Chetty analyzed income data for the US population from 1.4 billion tax records between 1999 and 2014. Julia Belluz, Vox, "We’re making real progress against cancer. But you may not know it if you’re poor.," 8 Jan. 2019 Note that prices do not include taxes, fees, and carrier charges. Caitlin Morton, Condé Nast Traveler, "12 Days of Deals: U.S. to Cape Town for $549 Round-Trip," 24 Dec. 2018 Proposition 26, a 2010 ballot initiative, requires a supermajority to raise fees (supplementing 1978’s Proposition 13, which requires a supermajority to raise taxes). David Roberts, Vox, "California’s cap-and-trade system may be too weak to do its job," 12 Dec. 2018 Constellation reported a $135 million loss from investments that weighed on results, lowering net income before taxes. Micah Maidenberg, WSJ, "Constellation Brands Lowers Outlook After Earnings Miss," 9 Jan. 2019 Catch me from now until the end of the year wearing a sash for the most mundane tasks—going to the grocery store, paying my taxes, riding the subway, etc. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Here's What the Bachelor Contestants Are Packing to Meet Colton Underwood," 7 Jan. 2019 Tech leaders there, working in offices that benefitted from public subsidies, are mostly pushing back against measures to levy taxes on companies to combat the city’s significant homeless crisis. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Big cities courting big tech helped define 2018," 18 Dec. 2018 The promise of new funds comes as Pakistan is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout package and the government is working to formulate a budgetary plan that would raise tax revenues and restrain spending. Waqar Gillani, WSJ, "UAE Promises Pakistan $3 Billion to Boost Foreign-Currency Reserves," 21 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Bernie Sanders proposed nearly doubling the top estate-tax rate to 77% from 40%, continuing progressives’ push for new and expansive ways to tax the wealthiest Americans and combat inequality. Richard Rubin, WSJ, "Bernie Sanders Proposes Big Boost in Top Estate-Tax Rate," 31 Jan. 2019 The program taxes hospitals and adds matching federal funds before redistributing the money to about 200 hospitals across the state. Robert Channick,, "South Shore Hospital tells state it needs $3 million in funding by Aug. 1 to avoid shutdown," 10 July 2018 And next week the United States is to start taxing $34 billion in Chinese goods, and later add tariffs on an additional $16 billion in goods. Lolita C. Baldor, The Seattle Times, "Mattis arrives in China; NKorea to be key topic of meetings," 26 June 2018 Murphy wants to expand pre-K, make a down payment on a plan to make community college tuition-free by 2021, legalize and tax recreational marijuana, and boost funding for education, public workers’ pensions, and transportation. Andrew Seidman,, "Democrats have one-party rule in Trenton. Why can't they agree on taxes?," 13 June 2018 More stories: But 18 months after the law was passed to regulate and tax the medical marijuana market and six months after the state began accepting applications for those businesses, not a single license has been awarded. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "Cancelled meeting means more delays for medical marijuana licenses," 8 June 2018 Even if parishes approve fantasy sports gambling, additional legislation will be needed in 2019 to figure out how to regulate and tax the games. Julia O'donoghue,, "Louisiana voters will decide on legalizing fantasy sports betting apps in November," 26 May 2018 While the outbreak is in a remote area where road travel is taxing and slow, one of the towns where cases may be occurring, Bikoro, is a port on a lake that connects to the Congo and Ubangi rivers. Helen Branswell, STAT, "WHO officials fear latest Ebola outbreak in Congo could spread to big cities," 9 May 2018 The work is emotionally taxing, and Castillo rubbed her temples at the end of a long day. Aaron Nelsen, San Antonio Express-News, "Tamaulipas begins first-of-its-kind exhumation of drug war victims," 7 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tax.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of tax


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for tax


Middle English, to estimate, assess, tax, from Anglo-French taxer, from Medieval Latin taxare, from Latin, to feel, estimate, censure, frequentative of tangere to touch — more at tangent entry 2

Combining form

Greek taxi-, from taxis

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tax

Dictionary Entries near tax







tax abatement

Statistics for tax

Last Updated

9 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tax

The first known use of tax was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tax



Financial Definition of tax

What It Is

Taxes are required payments from citizens to governments. The payments fund projects and expenditures that serve the public interest.

How It Works

Most taxes are legislated, meaning that representatives elected by the citizens of a country or region determine what activities to tax, how much to tax, when to collect those taxes, and how to administer the proceeds. Individuals, businesses, and other entities subject to the tax must remit the tax or face enforcement action.

Why It Matters

Taxes are a topic of fierce debate in economics, politics, public policy and investing. For example, one of the most controversial taxes in the United States is the federal income tax. In the U.S., we have a progressive tax, meaning that a person's tax rate rises as income rises.

Economically speaking, one of the biggest effects of taxation is the impact it has on consumption. Generally, consumers will consume less when taxes rise and consume more when taxes fall.

In the investing world, taxes are also a major consideration. Some transactions trigger tax liabilities while others do not. The timing of buying and selling certain investments may trigger different tax liabilities. Ultimately, taxes reduce returns, and wise investors will consider their effects in all of their financial decisions.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of tax

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an amount of money that a government requires people to pay according to their income, the value of their property, etc., and that is used to pay for the things done by the government



English Language Learners Definition of tax (Entry 2 of 2)

: to require (someone) to pay a tax
: to require someone to pay a tax on (something)
: to require a lot from (something or someone) : to put demands on (something or someone)


\ ˈtaks \

Kids Definition of tax

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: money collected by the government from people or businesses for public use


taxed; taxing

Kids Definition of tax (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to require to pay money to a government for public use
2 : to cause a strain on Fighting to survive the storm taxed their strength.

Keep scrolling for more

Legal Definition of tax

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to assess or determine judicially the amount of (costs of an action in court)
2 : to levy a tax on tax the corporation tax capital gains

Other Words from tax

taxer noun


noun, often attributive

Legal Definition of tax (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a charge usually of money imposed by legislative or other public authority upon persons or property for public purposes
2 : a sum levied on members of an organization to defray expenses

History and Etymology for tax

Transitive verb

Medieval Latin taxare to assess for taxation, tax, from Latin, to assess, value, fix

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on tax

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tax

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tax

Spanish Central: Translation of tax

Nglish: Translation of tax for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tax for Arabic Speakers

Comments on tax

What made you want to look up tax? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


excited commotion or publicity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!