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

President Trump promised a reduction in taxes with the new law. Sarah Skidmore Sell, The Seattle Times, "I owe how much? Americans shocked by impact of new tax law," 20 Feb. 2019 As a result, the number of tax returns with a mortgage-interest deduction will drop to about 14 million for 2018 from 32 million for 2017, according to data from the Joint Committee on Taxation. WSJ, "WSJ Tax Guide 2019: Mortgage-Interest Deduction," 15 Feb. 2019 Warren is firmly supportive of causes like economic reform, trade, taxes, and the environment. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Bruce Mann, Elizabeth Warren's Husband, Is Low-Key But Incredibly Supportive," 29 Jan. 2019 These regulations cannot be held to the same standards as tax cuts, critics say. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "EPA Wants To Hollow Out Regulations That Safeguard Against Mercury Poisoning," 28 Dec. 2018 Requiring the president and vice president to disclose their tax returns and divest any assets that could present a conflict of interest. Ella Nilsen, Vox, "House Democrats’ sweeping anti-corruption bill HR 1 is getting a Senate companion.," 18 Dec. 2018 Days later, Mueller filed 32 charges against Manafort and his business partner for allegedly lying on tax returns and conspiring to commit bank fraud. Emily Bloch, Teen Vogue, "The Russia Investigation Is Almost Over. Here's What You Need to Know," 8 Dec. 2018 Start paying attention to bank statements, documenting account numbers, and looking at tax returns—and don’t sign anything without reading it first. Elizabeth Kiefer, Glamour, "7 Things You Secretly Need to Do Before You Get Divorced," 27 Nov. 2018 Some probes are likely to look into not only Trump’s tax returns, Trump family businesses, payments to various individuals, Hurricane response in Puerto Rico and in a glorious bit of irony, Trump’s personal email use. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Midterm Election Results Explained," 7 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

An analysis by the tax policy center was less upbeat, predicting that the state's move to tax lower-income residents and lighten the load on the affluent won't pay off in the long run. Grace Schneider, The Courier-Journal, "What the recent tax reform bills mean for the average Kentuckian," 19 Apr. 2018 Some cities are having success taxing ride-hailing services and using the money to pay for transit improvements. Alissa Walker, Curbed, "You can’t be a ‘climate mayor’ if you’re making more room for cars," 6 Apr. 2018 Bitcoin transactions are private, and therefore hard to tax and regulate. Mark Daly, idahostatesman, "Is bitcoin the digital future of currency? Right now it’s confusing | Idaho Statesman," 21 Feb. 2018 As of September 2017, the company was holding $250 billion overseas, a hoard that is barely taxed and should never have been abroad in the first place. Scott Galloway, Esquire, "Silicon Valley’s Tax-Avoiding, Job-Killing, Soul-Sucking Machine," 8 Feb. 2018 Another effort to fund transit by taxing fossil fuel consumption was not successful last night. Alissa Walker, Curbed, "Transit on the ballot: How cities voted to fund transportation," 7 Nov. 2018 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

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

9 Mar 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).


to corrupt or become corrupted

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