Definition of a tax

Meaning and definition of a tax:

A tax is one of the significant sources of public revenue. A tax is an obligatory charge or payment levied by the government on an individual or business. Thus an element of compulsion is included in taxation. The other sources of public revenue are barred from this compulsory element. There is no direct give and take relationship among a taxpayer and the government.

Definition of a tax:

According to Professor Seligman, “A tax is an obligatory contribution from the person to the State to defray the expenses incurred in the common interest of all without any reference to the special advantages conferred”.

In terms of Dalton, “A tax is an obligatory contribution imposed by the public authority, irrespective of the exact quantity of service rendered to the taxpayer, in return for whom no particular and direct quid pro quo is provided to the payer”.

From such definitions, it is apparent that tax is a compulsory contribution. This means that the State has the right to tax. Denial to pay the tax is punishable. The phrase ‘without quid pro quo’ refers the absence of direct and proportional advantage to the taxpayer from the government.

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