noun, often attributive
\ ˈtaks How to pronounce tax (audio) \

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

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Other Words from tax


taxable \ ˈtak-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce taxable (audio) \ adjective
taxer noun

Synonyms for tax

Synonyms: Noun

assessment, duty, imposition, impost, levy

Synonyms: Verb

strain, stretch, test, try

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In addition, Century City is within an Opportunity Zone, a new federal program that provides generous tax breaks for investments within lower-income neighborhoods. Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Franklin meat processor Strauss Brands, with 250 jobs, moving to Century City Business Park," 4 Sep. 2019 The state Economic Development Authority in 2015 approved $390 million in tax breaks. Fortune, "Reaching the American Dream: a Traffic Nightmare?," 3 Sep. 2019 The tax break was announced the same day Musk met with Chinese Transport Minister Li Xiaopeng, according to a statement posted on social media by the Transport Ministry. Michelle Toh, CNN, "Elon Musk visited China and won a tax break for Tesla," 2 Sep. 2019 What about a tax break for price increases on bread, milk, gasoline, big-screen TVs, or lawnmowers? Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Of course we tax all capital gains (8/31/19)," 1 Sep. 2019 The lawsuit further alleges Holtec bribed a public official years ago in Tennessee and later lied to officials in New Jersey to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks. San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Onofre owners, contractor and regulators face new lawsuit over fuel storage plan," 30 Aug. 2019 Insurance costs and tax breaks push people into robotic cars. Alex Davies, WIRED, "A Novelist Takes Self-Driving to Its Illogical Conclusion," 27 Aug. 2019 Uber also is in line for city and county tax breaks that'll bring its total incentive package to about $36 million. Dallas News, "Here's where Uber's $24 million ranks among state's biggest incentive packages," 26 Aug. 2019 The tax, which went into effect in April, is expected to generate about $20 million annually. Anthony Clark Carpio, Burbank Leader, "Burbank Infrastructure Oversight Board meets for first time," 23 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Handling the surge of calls that could result if the three-digit number goes live will likely tax the resources of call centers, many of which already operate on a shoestring budget. Greg Miller, Science | AAAS, "Three suicide prevention strategies show real promise. How can they reach more people?," 22 Aug. 2019 The paper concludes that taxes don’t actually pay for anything—that the federal government spends first, then taxes some of that money back later. Zach Helfand, The New Yorker, "The Economist Who Believes the Government Should Just Print More Money," 20 Aug. 2019 In states that allow both medical and recreational marijuana, the products are typically regulated separately, sold separately and taxed separately. Sophie Quinton,, "Where doctors can recommend marijuana to replace opioids," 19 Aug. 2019 Liccardo is also exploring a possible ballot measure that, if passed, would tax all ammunition and firearm purchases in San Jose. Andrew O'reilly | Fox News, Fox News, "San Jose mayor proposes first-in-nation insurance requirement for guns following mass shootings," 13 Aug. 2019 But those base broadeners also had the effect of increasing the amount of profits that states can tax, too. Jason Garcia,, "Florida is about to give more than $500 million to big corporations | Updated story," 12 Aug. 2019 The biggest problem with this change: Alcohol would still be taxed. Jon Chesto,, "Restaurant group scores two key victories in state budget," 6 Aug. 2019 Big systemic changes to the air industry, like insisting on efficiency and taxing emissions, are the key to the solution. Cassie Werber, Quartz, "How much does your flight actually hurt the planet?," 30 July 2019 The arrivals are taxing their new hosts, who are torn between a desire to help and the instinct to protect their own resources. New York Times, "They Survived Colonization and War. But Venezuela’s Collapse Was Too Much.," 30 July 2019

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.

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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

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Learn More about tax

Dictionary Entries near tax







tax abatement

Statistics for tax

Last Updated

12 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tax

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

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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 How to pronounce tax (audio) \

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.

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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

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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).


readily or continually undergoing change

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