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

That money comes from taxpayers who decided to direct $1 from their tax liability on their annual income tax returns to the system. The state matches money that eligible candidates raise in increments of up to $250. Joshua Miller,, "Gonzalez, Massie get cash infusion from public financing," 12 July 2018 No amount of tax cuts for the rich or appointments of conservative justices to the Supreme Court is worth the endorsement of cruel treatment of other human beings. Ted Slowik, Daily Southtown, "Slowik: Trump, race and why it seems like a hate-fueled confrontation might happen anywhere, anytime," 12 July 2018 Soaring sales and use tax returns are a big driver, with collections up 10 percent from last year. Allie Morris Austin Bureau, Houston Chronicle, "Oil and sales tax revenues up as Texas pulls in $2.8B more than expected," 11 July 2018 An outside lawyer warned Free Market that the I.R.S. could force the group to return contributions, require donors to amend their tax returns and expose Free Market to legal liability. John Schwartz, New York Times, "He Sues to Discredit Climate Scientists. Now He’s Being Sued by His Allies.," 11 July 2018 In November 2017, Washington pleaded guilty in federal court in Kansas City, Mo., to making a false statement on his tax return and to aggravated identity theft. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, "Former NBA player Kermit Washington sentenced to six years in federal prison for charity fraud," 10 July 2018 Prosecutors are known to possess Bickers’ tax returns and other financial records. J. Scott Trubey, ajc, "Atlanta bribery evidence against Mitzi Bickers includes recordings," 10 July 2018 Szarmach was later charged with filing a false tax return, and agreed to pay upward of $89,000 in restitution as a part of his sentence. Craig Lyons, Post-Tribune, "Co-defendants of former Sheriff Buncich get probation for roles in bribery scheme," 9 July 2018 But gifts larger than $15,000 per recipient per year trigger a requirement that the giver file a gift tax return. Liz Weston, The Seattle Times, "Can you afford to help your kid start a business?," 9 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Knives and forks and other essentials would be taxed, while Chinese tilapia — a popular item sold by Walmart Inc. and other retailers — is among the seafood on the list. Bruce Einhorn,, "Trump's trade war is about to hit home — and your home is no exception," 11 July 2018 In response to other tariffs, Canada, the European Union and Mexico have all taxed imports on American goods. Thomas Novelly, The Courier-Journal, "As tariffs on China loom, McConnell says 'nobody wins in trade wars'," 5 July 2018 Tuition rates can vary dramatically depending on if a student lives in the college’s taxing district, qualifies as state resident or has nonresident status. Jaimy Jones, Houston Chronicle, "San Jac may drop ‘not needed’ policy on undocumented immigrants, in-state tuition," 5 July 2018 But its single, cramped setting and leisurely pacing could definitely tax the patience of horror fans looking for a more visceral, scare-laden experience. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Lighthouse': Film Review," 4 July 2018 Starting July 6, the U.S. will tax the 818 products, worth $34 billion a year in imports, that remained from the original list. NBC News, "Trump slaps China with $50 billion in tariffs, Beijing immediately hits back, report says," 16 June 2018 In 1791, Alexander Hamilton recommended that America encourage new branches of manufacturing by taxing imports and subsidizing domestic production. Caleb Crain, The New Yorker, "Is Capitalism a Threat to Democracy?," 7 May 2018 In the past, Sweeney and Scutari, both Democrats, have said that legalization would make millions for the state, by taxing a regulated cannabis industry. Jan Hefler,, "Marijuana decriminalization bill proposed by legalization opponents in N.J.," 15 Feb. 2018 Special interest groups continue to put forward initiatives to fund various priorities by taxing the rich. sacbee, "Tax haircuts and concerts – or the rich? Californians consider the options," 9 July 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

Transitive verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tax

Dictionary Entries near tax







tax abatement

Statistics for tax

Last Updated

21 Sep 2018

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)

: 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)



English Language Learners Definition of tax (Entry 2 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


\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


an open space surrounded by woods

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!