A tax (from the Latin taxo; "rate") is a financial charge or other levy imposed upon a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity) by a state or the functional equivalent of a state such that failure to pay is punishable by law. Taxes are also imposed by many administrative divisions. Taxation is a system of raising money to finance government. All governments require payments of money, taxes from people. Taxes consist of direct or indirect taxes and may be paid in money or as its labor equivalent. Governments use tax revenues to pay soldiers and police, to build dams and roads, to operate schools and hospitals, to provide food to the poor and medical care to the elderly, and for hundreds of other purposes. Without taxes to fund its activities government could not exist.
According to Black's Law Dictionary, a tax is a "pecuniary burden laid upon individuals or property owners to support the government [...] a payment exacted by legislative authority." It "is not a voluntary payment or donation, but an enforced contribution, exacted pursuant to legislative authority" and is "any contribution imposed by government [...] whether under the name of toll, tribute, tallage, gabel, impost, duty, custom, excise, subsidy, aid, supply, or other name."
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