A tax is an enforced contribution that helps to pay for various government services such as roads, schools or public health care and utilities. Taxes are levied by government entities and come in various forms, most commonly via direct and indirect taxation. Direct taxation can be most easily defined as taxes paid straight to the government by way of yearly income tax returns. Indirect taxation comes from the purchase of goods in retail venues. While there are rates for taxation set on federal levels, states and counties can also set their own taxation rates to help pay for various public works.
The first historical reference to a system of taxation dates back to the ancient Egyptians. As money was not widely in use, goods and livestock were often the sole means of contribution. Individuals often gave according to their line of work and those who could not or did not contribute enough were penalized. References to taxation are also found throughout Europe’s history where taxes were imposed on everything from windows to a man’s beard. In times of war, it was common for taxes to spike significantly to afford the expenses of arming soldiers and ensuring victory. These times could be a heavy burden on the average citizen.