impose tax vs levy tax

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Senior Member
1 [transitive] impose something (on/upon something/somebody)to introduce a new law, rule, tax, etc; to order that a rule, punishment, etc. be used
A new tax was imposed on fuel.
Definition of impose verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

[VERB] If a government or organization levies a tax or other sum of money, it demands it from people or organizations.
They levied religious taxes on Christian commercial transactions.
Taxes should not be levied without the authority of Parliament.
Collins Cobuild Dictionary.
I summarized from the definitions that government levies a tax after imposing the tax. Is my understanding correct?
  • JenSie

    Hello koolaid02,

    I looked up the words in my copy of Roget's International Thesaurus and found that "impose" and "levy" are used as synonyms. I also looked up the etymology of the two words (online at the Online Etymology Dictionary) and found that they have have very similar meanings from the beginning of their use.

    Therefore I wouldn't say that a tax is levied after it is imposed. They are verbs that indicate the same action in my understanding. I WOULD say that a tax is collected after it is levied or imposed.

    I hope this helps.


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I agree: levying and imposing a tax (or a fine etc.) are the same; they're a government decision. They then need to collect the tax, that is actually get people to pay it.
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