A Dictionary of Taxation

A Dictionary of Taxation

Dictionary Details

  • Title: A dictionary of taxation.
  • Author: James, Simon, 1952-
  • Edition: 2nd ed.
  • Published: Cheltenham ; Northhampton, Mass. : Edward Elgar, 2012.
  • Number of Pages: 299
  • Subjects: Taxation — Dictionaries. Taxation. Great Britain. Dictionaries.
  • Notes: Previous edition: 1998. Formerly CIP. Includes bibliographical references. Also issued online.
  • ISBN: 9781849801225
  • Dewey Number: 336.2003

About the Author

Simon James, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Exeter Business School, Chartered Tax Adviser and Fellow, Chartered Institute of Taxation, United Kingdom.

Review of the Book “A Dictionary of Taxation”

Reviewed by Irena KLEMEN?I?, from the Institute of Public Finance, Croatia.

Fourteen years after the first edition of A Dictionary of Taxation, a new edition has
been published, containing over 200 new or substantially revised entries. Simon
James has collected definitions and terms on legal, accounting and economic
aspects of tax and tax systems, as well as those of social science. The entries are
not limited only to British, American or European legal systems and they include
terms from around the world. The entries are sorted alphabetically and many of
them contain references to further reading, listing books and articles that are of
great value to researchers and analysts.

The dictionary is written in plain English in a user-friendly manner, not limiting
its audience to professionals and researchers into legal systems. As mentioned in
the Preface, taxes have existed since the beginning of civilization, they affect all
members of the society and play a significant role in all economies. It is therefore
important for any member of society to be able to comprehend the rules they are
forced to obey. Hence, this dictionary can help them in better understanding of the
sometimes complex terms used in taxation and tax systems, as the definitions are
simple and understandable. Although the explanations are sometimes too vague
and simple to be useful for researchers, the additional references make this book
valuable for their work too. For many entries James has provided historical references
as well as some references to theoretical explanations.

Many translators from non-English speaking countries will appreciate the extensive
list of abbreviations and the names of institutions from around the world.
Other valuable contributions are quotation from court judgements (e.g. on employment
or emolument) and quotations from famous speeches (e.g. on mobile

Although it deals with a topic widely perceived as ?serious” , the user of the dictionary
can encounter some quite witty entries. For example, the author warns the
readers not to boast to the neighbours about the tax they evaded, otherwise they
might be reported to the tax authorities by ?well wishers” or ?honest taxpayers”
who tend to send anonymous letters. Also, one would never consider Jaffa cakes
to be the source of tax dispute. The UK tax laws make the difference between
cakes and biscuits by proscribing different tax rates for each category, making this
problem a complex fiscal matter. James refers to some terms in popular culture –
the entry taxman refers to a song by George Harrison dealing with taxation.

Many terms refer to the psychology and the behaviour of taxpayers. The spite effect
describes the response of taxpayers to tax liabilities – even if it’s costly for
them, they will work less in order to pay less tax. The entry on excise contains a
1,755 description as ?hateful tax levied on commodities” while the bomb crater
effect describes the decrease in an individual’s willingness to comply with the tax
system following an audit by the tax authorities, expecting that they will not be
audited in the forthcoming period.

To conclude, A Dictionary of Taxation is a valuable book in any translator’s or
researcher’s library and a useful tool for anyone dealing with taxation, accountancy
and public finance.

First Preface

Originally taxation was paid in kind – such as a share of the harvest, labour or objects of value. This was, of course, replaced by money as it became the basic means of exchange and increasingly in modern economies it is becoming possible to pay taxes electronically. Historically taxation has frequently been a driving force in administrative developments. for example in Ancient Rome the census was used to record the property of citizens for the purposes of taxation. The Domesday Book was a comprehensive record of ownership and liabilities of land in eleventh-century England and formed the basis of taxation for several centuries. Taxation is often the focus of struggles over resources. King John’s demands for increased taxation brought on the crisis of 1215 which led to John’s submission and the issue of the Magna Carta. It was a factor leading to the Civil War and the execution of Charles I and it was a major in?uence on the development of Parliament in the UK. Its role in the American revolution. ‘No taxation without representation’ is well known, though one might agree with Callender:

That a great reluctance to pay taxes existed in all the colonies, there can be no doubt. It was one of the marked characteristics of the American People longafter their separation from England. (G.S. Callender (1909), Selections from the Economic History of the United States 1765-1860, p. 23).

In modern economies taxation can absorb up to a half of national income. There is no signi?cant part of a monetary economy which is unaffected by taxation, even if it is of?cially classi?ed as ‘tax-free’. One of the most obvious cases is ‘duty-free’ products at airports which are rarely priced so as to pass on the full bene?t of their tax-free status to the ?nal consumer. As basic economic analysis indicates, the effects of taxation work their way through the system by changes in prices, outputs, incomes and government expenditure.
The importance of taxation therefore seemed to make it a highly suitable subject for a dictionary of terms. It did not seem appropriate to set out to provide a complete collection of technical terms. That would have taken volumes even for a few tax systems and would not have been of major interest to many beyond those directly involved. Instead, the intention is to provide an explanation or description of terms which are commonly used or which provide interesting insights or curiosities of this most important of economic subjects.

In compiling a book of this sort I have incurred many debts. Edward Elgar has been a tremendously supportive and encouraging publisher and I hope he is pleased with the result. Many valuable contributions and comments have come from Roy Bartlett, Chris Evans, Abe Greenbaum, Robert Mitchell, Professor Christopher Nobes, Professor R.H. Parker, Ian Wallschutzky and many of?cials from the Australian Tax Of?ce, the Inland Revenue, the Internal Revenue Service and Revenue Canada Taxation.

Preface to the 2nd Edition

In addition to general updating, over two hundred entries have been added or substantially revised for the second edition. I am grateful to many people for further inspiration and insights including those attending my sessions on tax economics and tax policy at HM Treasury.

Presentation from the Publisher

This … edition of the Dictionary of Taxation contains over 200 new or substantially revised entries to enhance the existing wide range of accessible definitions and terms used to describe various aspects of tax and tax systems around the world.

The entries relate to the analysis of taxation, key concepts, major developments and controversies in taxation. The Dictionary draws on economic, accounting and legal aspects of taxation as well as the contributions of other social sciences to the understanding of taxation and its effects.

Sorted alphabetically, with cross-referencing, each entry presents the essential points of a particular law, accountancy practice or economic concept. Additionally this revised and updated Dictionary offers a guide to readers of other literature on certain concepts or practices. Written in an accessible style, it will be indispensable to all those who need to know more about the concepts of taxation, including practitioners, academics and students.


See Also

  • Taxation Office
  • Penguin Dictionary of Law
  • Mozley and Whiteley’s Law Dictionary
  • Concise Law Dictionary of Words, Phrases and Maxims
  • Taxation
  • American taxation
  • Dictionary of International and Comparative Law
  • Stimson’s Law dictionary
  • Double Taxation
  • Dictionary of Concepts in History

Further Reading

  • West’s Tax Law Dictionary

  • Posted


    , , ,