tax, levy

ThomasK

Senior Member
Belgium, Dutch
While reading I bumped into levies, heffingen in Dutch, levéé in French, meaning some kind of tax as well, imposed on someone.

What struck me is that the belastingen/ taxes/ impôt words seem based on some kind of load, on imposing, on burden/ bearing, so on a downward movement (the effect of burdens, imposing), but a levy can be a tax too, but suggests something like raising. In German one 'lifts' (erhebt) taxes. So there is some kind of ambiguity there in my view, or even a contradiction.

Do you have this (apparent) ambiguity in your language as well? And can you explain it?
 
  • apmoy70

    Senior Member
    Greek
    In Greek:
    Levy is «τέλος» ('telos, neuter noun), from the ancient «τέλος» ('tĕlŏs, neuter noun), lit. fulfilment, conclusion. PIE base *telā-, to weigh, lift, probably due to the weighing of the correct amount of gold/goods one had to pay as a financial charge or other levy in order to meet the requirements or expectations of the State (from «τέλος», the ancient Greek unit of value and mass «τάλαντον», talent derives).
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Tax on income: Impôts (French), Impuestos (Spanish)
    Tax on services, goods, luxury, property: Taxes (Fr), Impuestos, Aranceles (Sp)
    Sales tax: Taxes (Fr), Impuestos (Sp)
    Value added tax: TVA taxes sur la valeur ajoutée (FR), IVA impuestos sobre el valor añadido
    to tax, raise taxes: imposer (Fr), imponer, gravar (Sp)

    I don't have a definite idea in my mind what a levy is, it sounds like a formal word for taxes, taxation. I believe to levy = to raise taxes, so it's like imposer/imponer. It would make total sense if it comes from Fr. levée (raising funds) lever (to raise up). Some more explanation about this term would be appreciated.
    The above is an attempt to simplify what would be extremely complicated if we go into detail.

    I'm not sure what is the origin of the words taxes, tasas (perhaps an idea of measurement, measuring judging by other words in the same family), but imposer/imponer etc. is clearly negative since there is an idea of imposing, imposition. Come to think of it sometimes we use duty in English (taxes, aranceles) which gives an idea of imposition by an authority.
     
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    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    So in Greek there is at least no ambiguity as for taxes... ,--)

    I quite agree with the imposing, M, but the funny thing is that levying seems like the opposite. There is also exempting, which can happen by lifting, but that is indeed the opposite of imposing, whereas 'levying' means the same as imposing, and raising comes close to it, I think, but the root is/seems originally the same.
     
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    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    I just got some interesting answer from DearPrudence via private message:
    "impôt" vient bien d'imposer "part de la dépense publique imposée par l'État à chaque citoyen" (source CNRTL)

    Et une fois que ces impôts sont imposés, s'effectue la "levée" où l'on collecte l'argent.
    Levée : Action de ramasser, de recueillir, de rassembler. Levée des impôts, des taxes. Le duc (...) annonça (...) qu'il ne ferait aucune levée extraordinaire d'argent sur son peuple (Montalembert, Ste Élisabeth, 1836, p. 125).
    (à noter que l'on utilise plus la "levée" en français pour une sorte de taxe)
    So there seems to be this logic involved: first one imposes [from above] and then collects [picks up] the "fruits". However, the funny thing is that the picking up word is the basis of a new word for taxes.

    However, more contributions welcome ! (I do not know why these fonts now appear, sorry !)
     
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    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    I bumped into this question again, as I wondered whether my conclusion in #5 can be correct: first you impose/ lay down and then you pick up/ levy/ raise. The metaphor then seemed fairly logical, but 7 years later...

    Please tell me whether you use those concepts in your language too of laying down/ imposing rules [taxes] and then picking up the fruits [money]...
     

    Määränpää

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    In Finnish, the verbs that refer to creating a new tax don't seem to have an obvious top-down element.

    However,

    taxable (adjective): veronalainen (literally: undertax [top-down]) (cf. underground: maanalainen)

    to levy a tax (verb): kantaa vero (literally: to carry a tax [down-up]) (used mainly in formal language)
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    That is interesting: then you translate 'able' as 'under' (I might be mistaken) or do you mean by 'taxable' someone subjected to tax?

    kantaa vero: do you then mean that the person 'carrying the tax' is the one claiming the money (as I think 'levy' means)? Then that seems surprising.

    Just checking, maybe there is some misunderstanding somewhere!
     

    igusarov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Russian: quite similar concept and similar ambiguity.

    "Налог" = literally "onlay" or "onput" depending on how you translate its parts (but then, some dictionaries claim that "налог" is a root in itself). The meaning is "a tax".

    "Облагать налогом" = literally "round-lay [with] onlay", "to surround with tax". Preposition "with" is implied by the instrumental case of "налог". Prefix "об-" in this case can be explained as "from all sides, involving the entire object". The meaning is "to make something liable to tax".

    "Собирать налоги" = literally "to together-take the onlays", the meaning is "to collect taxes". Exactly same verb "собирать" is used for picking up berries, grapes, apples, etc. However, this verb doesn't imply any "up from below" movement. Instead, "со-" in this context means "from many places into one place" as in "put things together", while "-бир-" is a variation of the root "to take". So it's more like taking scattered things together than picking things up.

    "Сбор" = an ambiguous noun, literally "together-taking". This is both the process of collecting something, and a tax:
    "Сбор средств" = "collection of funds" = "fundraising".
    "Дорожный сбор" = "road tax" (for extra heavy semis).
     

    Määränpää

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    That is interesting: then you translate 'able' as 'under' (I might be mistaken) or do you mean by 'taxable' someone subjected to tax?
    By veronalainen, I mean a taxable transaction, such as taxable income and taxable sales. We also have adjectives such as kyseenalainen (questionable, literally "under-question") and kiistanalainen (disputed, literally "under-dispute").

    However, a taxable person is verovelvollinen (literally: tax-obligated).
    kantaa vero: do you then mean that the person 'carrying the tax' is the one claiming the money (as I think 'levy' means)? Then that seems surprising.
    Yes. In formal language, there seems to be a distinction between kantaa (to collect taxes from good taxpayers) and periä (to collect taxes aggressively when bad taxpayers have failed to pay). In everyday language, we use periä in both cases. (Periä has even a third meaning, "to inherit".)
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Russian: quite similar concept and similar ambiguity.

    "" = literally "onlay" or "onput" depending on how you translate its parts (but then, some dictionaries claim that "налог" is a root in itself). The meaning is "a tax".

    "Облагать налогом" = literally "round-lay [with] onlay", "to surround with tax". Preposition "with" is implied by the instrumental case of "налог". Prefix "об-" in this case can be explained as "from all sides, involving the entire object". The meaning is "to make something liable to tax".

    "Собирать налоги" = literally "to together-take the onlays", the meaning is "to collect taxes". Exactly same verb "собирать" is used for picking up berries, grapes, apples, etc. However, this verb doesn't imply any "up from below" movement. Instead, "со-" in this context means "from many places into one place" as in "put things together", while "-бир-" is a variation of the root "to take". So it's more like taking scattered things together than picking things up.

    "Сбор" = an ambiguous noun, literally "together-taking". This is both the process of collecting something, and a tax:
    "Сбор средств" = "collection of funds" = "fundraising".
    "Дорожный сбор" = "road tax" (for extra heavy semis).
    Extremely interesting in-depth information. Your Налог reminds me of our [belasting]aanslag, aan(towards)-slam, something like what you grab towards (yourself, I.c. the state)

    @Määränpää: very interesting to notice that
    - 'able' is viewed as 'under' (although I suppose there is no 1-1-relation)
    - is there anything to say about the root of periä?
     
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    Määränpää

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    @Määränpää: very interesting to notice that
    - 'able' is viewed as 'under' (although I suppose there is no 1-1-relation)
    - is there anything to say about the root of periä?
    "-n-alainen" is only used in a small number of words. There are other more common equivalents of "-able" such as "-kelpoinen" (~competent) or the passive present participle form of the verb.

    "Perä" means "back end", so words derived from it are used when someone goes after someone in some sense: the heir follows the deceased person, the creditor pursues the debtor.
     

    Määränpää

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    kantaa vero: do you then mean that the person 'carrying the tax' is the one claiming the money (as I think 'levy' means)? Then that seems surprising.
    Yes.
    I may not have been entirely precise. The person who does the "carrying" is actually the tax authority, not the government or the parliament. Think of a medieval taxman carrying money bags from citizens up to the king's castle. By the way, the version of the law in Swedish (Swedish has a longer history as an official language in Finland than Finnish, so Finnish terms are often translations) uses "bära upp", which should be recognizable to speakers of other Germanic languages. It means literally "to bear up".
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    OK, I am over a year older, and came to think of this again. So we noticed that one imposes taxes (downwards =valid)
    but one lifts sanctions (upwards = not valid, no longer valid). Yet, one can also raise or [French]
    lever taxes (upwards =valid), So the down/up contrast works for impose and lift, but then, as for making valid, one can impose or raise… Both verbs seem to be contradictory: expressing the same thing by means of an opposite movement, except if one explains it the way --- except if one adopts DearPrudence's hypothesis: first you impose (strip down???) and then you gather, pick up (levy)...

    @apmoy70: what verbs do you use with /telos/? Can you tell us? Up and down, or up or down?
    @igusarov: you seem to have down (imposing) and up (picking) - and gathering (around)
    @Määränpää: Finnish might have this contrast too, but not the ambiguity imposing/ raising, I think;
     

    apmoy70

    Senior Member
    Greek
    OK, I am over a year older, and came to think of this again. So we noticed that one imposes taxes (downwards =valid)
    but one lifts sanctions (upwards = not valid, no longer valid). Yet, one can also raise or [French]
    lever taxes (upwards =valid), So the down/up contrast works for impose and lift, but then, as for making valid, one can impose or raise… Both verbs seem to be contradictory: expressing the same thing by means of an opposite movement, except if one explains it the way --- except if one adopts DearPrudence's hypothesis: first you impose (strip down???) and then you gather, pick up (levy)...

    @apmoy70: what verbs do you use with /telos/? Can you tell us? Up and down, or up or down?
    ...
    From «τέλος» derive:

    (1) The ancient verb «τελέω/τελῶ» tĕléō (uncontracted)/tĕlô (contracted) --> to finish, complete, initiate, discharge, pay, spend which with a prefix becomes:
    -«Ἀπο-τελῶ» ăpŏ-tĕlô («ἀπό» ăpó + «τελῶ») --> to bring to an end, complete a work, produce, pay what is due, accomplish, perform, fill up, satiate.

    -«Δια-τελῶ» dĭă-tĕlô («διά» dĭắ + «τελῶ») --> to bring to an end, accomplish, continue, persevere.

    -«Ἐπι-τελῶ» ĕpĭ-tĕlô («ἐπί» ĕpí + «τελῶ») --> to complete, finish, accomplish, bring to perfection.

    -«Συν-τελῶ» sŭn-tĕlô («σύν» sún + «τελῶ») --> to bring to an end, complete, finish off, perpetrate.

    (2) The ancient verb «τέλλω» téllō --> (trans.) to make rise, spring, produce, (intr.) to rise, spring, originate (of constellations, plants, waters) which with a prefix becomes:
    -«Ἀνα-τέλλω ănă-téllō («ἀνά» ănắ + «τέλλω») --> to rise up.

    -«Ἐπι-τέλλω ĕpĭ-téllō («ἐπί» ĕpí + «τέλλω») --> to speak a speech, command, prescribe, give orders.

    -«Συν-τέλλω sŭn-téllō («σύν» sún + «τέλλω») = «συντελῶ».

    All the aforementioned verbs -with the exception of «ἐπιτέλλω»- have survived in MoGr (with slightly different meanings): «αποτελώ» [a.pɔ.teˈlɔ] --> to form, be, comprise, make up, constitute, compose, «διατελώ» [ði.a.teˈlɔ] --> tο remain, be, «επιτελώ» [e.pi.teˈlɔ] --> to achieve, put through, «συντελώ» [sin.deˈlɔ] --> to contribute, carry through, be instrumental, «ανατέλλω» [a.na.ˈte.lɔ] --> to rise up.

    «Τέλος» is from PIE *telh₂- to lift, carry, bear, endure.
    According to Beekes:
    Two etymologically different words seem to have merged in τέλος: in the sense of 'end, goal', τέλος can be derived from τέλομαι, πέλομαι as 'turning point (of the race-course, the field). Given the broad root meaning of *kʷel- (cf. Lat. colō, Skt. cárati which also occur as 'to commit, complete, etc.'), a different original meaning may also be envisaged. In the sense of 'delivery, tax', τέλος fits excellently with τέλλω, τλῆναι 'to lift, carry, yield', like φόρος 'tax' with φέρω 'to bear, carry'
     
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