• Article
  • Talk
  • History

Glossary of tax terminology

Tax can be confusing. Everyone needs a glossary of tax terms on occasion. There are several that can be recommended.


Tax is confusing. Economics is not much better. It seems that much of the terminology used is intended to be incomprehensible. That is an issue that needs to be addressed, and if I had time I would write a glossary from scratch. Indeed, once upon a time I did so. So let me start this tour of tax glossaries with that one.

‘Tax us if you can’ – the Tax Justice Network

There’s a glossary which is very tax justice focussed from page 43 onwards in the 2012 edition of’ Tax us if you can’ which I was responsible for co-authoring with John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network. I, unsurprisingly, recommend it. ¬†It’s available here.

The Financial Secrecy Index – the Tax Justice Network

The Financial Secrecy Index is also published by the Tax Justice Network. First published in 2009, I directed the first iteration. Considerably expanded over the next couple of version of the Index the glossary is now hard to find but is good (although I am biased as I remain responsible for some of its content), and it can be downloaded as a PDF. It’s available here.

The OECD tax glossary

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (or OECD, for short) set the rules for world tax and so should know what they’re talking about when it comes to tax: this is their tax glossary.

FreeAgent glossary of UK taxation

FreeAgent is an accounting software company, but they happen to have a senior accountant I know. Emily Coltman has written quite an accessible glossary of UK tax and accounting with a bias towards smaller business. It’s available here.