Law Dictionary

double taxation

noun
Updated on: 26 Jul 2017

Legal Definition of double taxation

  1. :  taxation by the same authority of the same property for the same period and the same purpose


Financial Definition of DOUBLE TAXATION

double taxation

What It Is

Double taxation occurs when a tax is imposed more than once on the same asset, income stream, or transaction.

How It Works

The most well-known example of double taxation in the U.S. is the income tax levied once on corporate income and then again when profits are distributed as dividends to shareholders.

Double taxation can also occur if two or more countries assume jurisdiction over the same asset, income, or transaction. This form of double taxation is often mitigated by tax treaties between countries.

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Why It Matters

Double taxation issues have prompted significant debate in the past. Some believe that the double taxation is unfair and that the government should levy taxes at either the corporate or individual level, but not both.

Those who believe that double taxation is fair often cite the fact that dividend policy is set at the corporate level, and if the company is concerned about double taxation issues, it should not make dividend payments to shareholders.

Pass-through entities like master limited partnerships (MLPs), limited liability companies (LLCs) and S corporations are popular largely because their special corporate structure circumvents the double taxation issue.

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