You are on page 1of 2

Tax differentiated from other terms

Tariff / Duties
1.
2.

The term tariff and custom duties are used interchangeably in the Tariff and Customs Code or PD No. 1464.
Customs duties, or simply duties, are taxes imposed on goods exported from or imported into a country. Custom
duties are really taxes but the latter term is broader in scope.

On the other hand, tariff may be used in one of three senses:


1.
2.
3.

A book of rates drawn usually in alphabetical order containing the names of several kinds of merchandise with the
corresponding duties to be paid for the same; or
The duties payable on goods imported or exported; or
The system or principle of imposing duties on the importation or exportation of goods.

License or regulatory fee v. tax


1.

2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

License fee is legal compensation or reward of an officer for specific services while a tax is an enforced contribution
from persons or property by the law-making body by virtue of its sovereignty and for the support of the government
and all public needs.
License fee is imposed for regulation, while tax is levied for revenue.
License fee involves the exercise of police power, tax of the taxing power.
Amount of license fee should be limited to the necessary expenses of inspection and regulation, while there is
generally no limit on the amount of the tax to be imposed.
License fee is imposed only on the right to exercise a privilege, while tax is imposed also on persons and property.
Failure to pay a license fee makes the act or business illegal, while failure to pay a tax does not necessarily make
the act or business illegal.

Regulatory tax
Examples: motor vehicle registration fee, sugar levy, coconut levy, regulation of non-useful occupations
PAL v. Edu: This involves the imposition of motor vehicle registration fees which the Supreme Court ruled as taxes. Fees may
be regarded as taxes even though they also serve as instruments of regulation because taxation may be made the
implement of the States police power. But if the purpose is primarily revenue, or if revenue is, at least, one of the real and
substantial purposes, then the exaction is properly called a tax.
Criteria for determining license fees
1.
2.

Imposition must relate to an occupation or activity which involves the health, morals, safety and development of
the people and which needs regulation for the protection and promotion of the public interest.
Imposition must also bear a reasonable relation to the probable expenses of regulation, taking into account the
costs of direct regulation as well as the incidental expenses.

Instances when license fees could exceed cost of regulation, control or administration
1.
2.

When the collection or the license fee is authorized under both the power of taxation and police power
When the license fee is collected to regulate a non-useful occupation

Special assessment v. tax


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

A special assessment is an enforced proportional contribution from owners of lands specially or peculiarly benefited
by public improvements.
A special assessment is levied only on land.
A special assessment is not a personal liability of the person assessed; it is limited to the land.
A special assessment is based wholly on benefits, not necessity.
A special assessment is exceptional both as to time and place; a tax has general application.

Republic v. Bacolod Murcia, 17 SCRA 632 - A special assessment is a levy on property which derives some special benefit
from the improvement. Its purpose is to finance such improvement. It is not a tax measure intended to raise revenues for the
government. The proceeds thereof may be devoted to the specific purpose for which the assessment was authorized, thus
accruing only to the owners thereof who, after all, pay the assessment.
Some rules:
a.
b.

An exemption from taxation does not include exemption from a special assessment.
The power to tax carries with it the power to levy a special assessment.

Toll v. tax

1.

2.
3.
4.
5.

Toll is a sum of money for the use of something. It is the consideration which is paid for the use of a road, bridge, or
the like, of a public nature. Taxes, on the other hand, are enforced proportional contributions from persons and
property levied by the State by virtue of its sovereignty for the support of the government and all public needs.
Toll is a demand of proprietorship; tax is a demand of sovereignty.
Toll is paid for the use of anothers property; tax is paid for the support of government.
The amount paid as toll depends upon the cost of construction or maintenance of the public improvement used;
while there is no limit on the amount collected as tax as long as it is not excessive, unreasonable, or confiscatory.
Toll may be imposed by the government or by private individuals or entities; tax may be imposed only by the
government.

Tax v. penalty
1.

2.
3.

Penalty is any sanction imposed as a punishment for violation of law or for acts deemed injurious; taxes are
enforced proportional contributions from persons and property levied by the State by virtue of its sovereignty for
the support of the government and all public needs.
Penalty is designed to regulate conduct; taxes are generally intended to generate revenue.
Penalty may be imposed by the government or by private individuals or entities; taxes only by the government.

Obligation to pay debt v. obligation to pay tax


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

A debt is generally based on contract, express or implied, while a tax is based on laws.
A debt is assignable, while a tax cannot generally be assigned.
A debt may be paid in kind, while a tax is generally paid in money.
A debt may be the subject of set off or compensation, a tax cannot.
A person cannot be imprisoned for non-payment of tax, except poll tax.
A debt is governed by the ordinary periods of prescription, while a tax is governed by the special prescriptive
periods provided for in the NIRC.

7.

A debt draws interest when it is so stipulated or where there is default, while a tax does not draw interest except
only when delinquent.