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Tax law, body of rules under which a public authority has a claim on taxpayers, requiring them to transfer to the authority part of their income or property. The power to impose taxes is generally recognised as a right of governments. The tax law of a nation is usually unique to it, although there are similarities and common elements in the laws of various countries.
In general, tax law is concerned only with the legal aspects of taxation, not with its financial, economic, or other aspects. The making of decisions as to the merits of various kinds of taxes, the general level of taxation, and the rates of specific taxes, for example, does not fall into the domain of tax law; it is a political, not a legal, process.
Tax law falls within the domain of public law—i.e., the rules that determine and limit the activities and reciprocal interests of the political community and the members composing it—as distinguished from relationships between individuals (the sphere of private law). International tax law is concerned with the problems arising when an individual or corporation is taxed in several countries. Tax law can also be divided into material tax law, which is the analysis of the legal provisions giving rise to the charging of a tax; and formal tax law, which concerns the rules laid down in the law as to assessment, enforcement, procedure, coercive measures, administrative and judicial appeal, and other such matters.