Taxes are cash payments by taxpayers to public-law communities without consideration. They are collected from those who realize an offense to which a tax law links the legal consequence of taxation. The purpose of taxes is to generate income for the performance of public tasks (§ 3 AO), which can also be an auxiliary purpose.
Other objectives pursued with taxation can be steering objectives that are intended to induce the taxpayer to behave in a certain way. Possible means of control are tax burdens that are intended to reduce certain types of behavior or tax relief that are intended to promote certain behavior. A distinction must be made between fees, contributions and taxes Special chargesthat are only collected from a certain group of addressees.
In Germany there are currently around 50 types of individual tax that are linked to one another in many ways. In 2003, tax revenues in Germany totaled around € 442 billion. The most important types of tax are the wage tax (approx. € 133 billion in 2003) and the value added tax (approx. € 137 billion in 2003).