Tax vs. Tariff: Which One Impacts Your Business More?

Most people have paid taxes at some point in their lives, whether they were income taxes, sales taxes, or a combination of both. Only a select few, however, have paid tariffs out of their own pockets. Those in the know frequently use the terms tax and tariff interchangeably. But they differ from one another. Contrary to taxes, which are levied on the taxable income of individuals and businesses, tariffs are applied to the importation of products. By paying taxes, both individuals and corporations support the government.

What is Tax?

These are taxes that people and businesses must pay to the government. The scope of this can be global, regional, or even small. Taxes come in many forms, but their main purpose is to fund governmental projects like constructing public infrastructure like roads and schools.

Types of Taxes

It's critical to keep in mind that the tax regulations of various nations and jurisdictions fluctuate significantly. Taxpayers can manage their obligations better if they are aware of their tax situation and obligations.

  • Income Tax − The federal government receives payment of this tax on income. The majority of nations use a progressive tax system, where people with higher incomes pay more taxes and people with lower incomes pay lower taxes.

  • Payroll Tax − An employee pays this tax to support Medicare and social security. Employers withhold these taxes, and both the employer and the employee are responsible for their respective portions. Self-employed people must also pay the same amount as an employee or an employer.

  • Sales Tax − When a consumer completes the payment of services and goods, these taxes are levied at the point of sale. The corporate company subsequently pays the government back with these funds. The sales taxes in various jurisdictions differ.

  • Corporate Tax − These are taxes that an organization must pay based on its taxable income. varying nations and states have varying rates.

What is Tariff?

This kind of tax is imposed on the importation of products and services from other countries. These taxes are imposed by governments to generate revenue, exert political influence over other nations, and safeguard home industries. Tariffs frequently result in higher prices for goods and services that are imported. This forces people to buy domestically produced goods and services rather than ones that are imported. This has sparked a discussion over whether tariffs are good or bad policy.

Types of Tariff

There are two types of Tariff −

  • Specific Tariff − Regardless of the cost or value of the item being purchased, this tax is imposed at a specific rate. On each piece of machinery that is imported into a country, the government may impose a $1,000 tax.

  • Ad-Volrem Tariff − The selling price of the good or service influences this obligation in part. One option calls for you to pay 10% of the equipment's entire cost.

Tariffs can assist governments in raising more revenue, but they also often have unforeseen consequences. Examples include the following −

They could result in less innovative and efficient domestic industries because they reduce market competitiveness.

  • Products created in the region can become more expensive.

  • They could start new controversies or exacerbate existing ones.

  • They might start a world trade war.

Difference between Tax and Tariff

The given table differentiate between tax and tariff −

Basis Tax Tariff


The term "tax" refers to the required payments made to a government by businesses and people.

The term "tariffs" refers to a specific kind of tax levied on imported products and services.


Taxes are imposed on sources of revenue and channels in a nation.

Tariffs are imposed on products that are domestically produced, manufactured, and sourced.


The purpose of taxes is to generate money for government initiatives.

Tariffs are crucial for promoting domestic consumption.


In order to sustain their various governments, residents and businesses must pay taxes. However, tariffs—a unique type of tax—apply to the importation of products and services from other countries. The primary gulf between the two is caused by their various aims.

The purpose of taxes is to provide financial support for governmental functions. The purpose of tariffs, on the other hand, is to boost domestic consumption while also raising tax revenue. Tariffs, however, are merely a particular type of tax.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What type of tax is a tariff?

Ans. A tariff is a tax imposed on items brought into the country from another. The majority of governments have higher tariffs on commodities that are also available locally, despite the fact that their tax rules and regulations vary. This promotes domestic manufacturing.

Q2. Is tariff a direct tax?

Ans. A tariff is in fact a direct tax. This is due to the fact that it is imposed on the consumer rather than the seller of the products or services.

Q3. What is the main purpose of a tariff?

Ans. Tariffs serve three main purposes: to generate income, to safeguard domestic industries, and to correct trade distortions. (punitive function). The revenue function results from the fact that tariff revenue serves as a source of funding for governments.

Q4. What Is an Example of a Tariff?

Ans. An example of a tariff would be a tax on a good imported from another country. For example, a 3% tariff on corn would be a 3% tax added to the cost of corn paid by any domestic importer of corn from a foreign country.

Updated on: 13-Apr-2023


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