To tax (from the Latin taxo; “I estimate”, which in turn is from tangō; “I touch”) is to impose a financial charge or other levy 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 subnational entities. Taxes consist of direct tax or indirect tax, and may be paid in money or as its labour equivalent (often but not always unpaid). A tax may be defined as a “pecuniary burden laid upon individuals or property owners to support the government […] a payment exacted by legislative authority.” A tax “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.”
In modern taxation systems, taxes are levied in money, but in-kind and corvée taxation are characteristic of traditional or pre-capitalist states and their functional equivalents. The method of taxation and the government expenditure of taxes raised is often highly debated in politics and economics. Tax collection is performed by a government agency such as Canada Revenue Agency, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States, or Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in the UK. When taxes are not fully paid, civil penalties (such as fines or forfeiture) or criminal penalties (such as incarceration) may be imposed on the non-paying entity or individual.
Quoted from Wikipedia