What is an ‘Income tax’?
Income tax refers to annual taxes levied by the federal government and most state governments on individual and business income. By law, businesses and individuals must file federal and state income tax returns every year to determine whether they owe taxes. Governments use the taxes they collect to fund their activities.
Income tax will be imposed on individuals or entities (taxpayers) that varies with respective income or profits (taxable income). Income tax generally is computed as the product of a tax rate times taxable income. Taxation rates may vary by type or characteristics of the taxpayer.
Income is money that an individual or business receives in exchange for providing a good or service or through investing capital. Income is used to fund day-to-day expenditures. People aged 65 and under typically receive the majority of their income from a salary or wages earned from a job. Investments, pensions and Social Security are primary sources of income for retirees. In businesses, income can refer to a company’s remaining revenues after paying all expenses and taxes. In this case, income is referred to as “earnings.” Most forms of income are subject to taxation.
The tax rate may increase as taxable income increases (referred to as graduated or progressive rates). The tax imposed on companies is usually known as corporate tax and is levied at a flat rate. However, individuals are taxed at various rates according to the slab in which they fall. Further, the partnership firms are also taxed at flat rate. Most jurisdictions exempt locally organized charitable organizations from tax. Capital gains may be taxed at different rates than other income. Credits of various sorts may be allowed that reduce tax. Some jurisdictions impose the higher of an income tax or a tax on an alternative base or measure of income.
Income taxes are used in most countries around the world. The tax systems vary greatly and can be progressive, proportional, or regressive, depending on the type of tax. Comparison of tax rates around the world is a difficult and somewhat subjective enterprise. Tax laws in most countries are extremely complex, and tax burden falls differently on different groups in each country and sub-national unit. Of course, services provided by governments in return for taxation also vary, making comparisons all the more difficult.
Countries that tax income generally use one of two systems:
Territorial &/ Residential.
In the territorial system, only local income – income from a source inside the country – is taxed.
In the residential system, residents of the country are taxed on their worldwide (local and foreign) income, while nonresidents are taxed only on their local income. In addition, a very small number of countries, notably the United tax, also tax their nonresident citizens on worldwide income. Countries with a residential system of taxation usually allow deductions or credits for the tax that residents already pay to other countries on their foreign income. Many countries also sign tax treaties with each other to eliminate or reduce double taxation.
Countries do not necessarily use the same system of taxation for individuals and corporations. For example, France uses a residential system for individuals but a territorial system for corporations, while Singapore does the opposite, and Brunei taxes corporate but not personal income.
Income tax is generally collected in one of two ways:
Through withholding of tax at source &/ Through payments directly by taxpayers. Nearly all jurisdictions require those paying employees or nonresidents to withhold income tax from such payments. The amount to be withheld is a fixed percentage where the tax itself is at a fixed rate. Alternatively, the amount to be withheld may be determined by the tax administration of the country or by the payer using formulas provided by the tax administration. Payees are generally required to provide to the payer or the government the information needed to make the determinations. Withholding for employees is often referred to as “pay as you earn” (PAYE) or “pay as you go.”
Nearly all systems require those whose proper tax is not fully settled through withholding to self assess tax and make payments prior to or with final determination of the tax. Self-assessment means the taxpayer must make a computation of tax and submit it to the government.