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c.1300, "impose a tax on," from Old French taxer "impose a tax" (13c.), from Latin taxare "evaluate, estimate, assess, handle," also "censure, charge," probably a frequentative form of tangere "to touch" (see tangent). Sense of "burden, put a strain on" first recorded 1670s; that of "censure, reprove" is from 1560s. Its use in Luke ii for Greek apographein "to enter on a list, enroll" is due to Tyndale. Related: Taxed; taxing.
early 14c., "obligatory contribution levied by a sovereign or government," from Anglo-French tax, Old French taxe, and directly from Medieval Latin taxa, from Latin taxare (see tax (v.)). Related: taxes. Tax shelter is attested from 1961.
(Luke 2:2; R.V., "enrolment"), "when Cyrenius was governor of Syria," is simply a census of the people, or an enrolment of them with a view to their taxation. The decree for the enrolment was the occasion of Joseph and Mary's going up to Bethlehem. It has been argued by some that Cyrenius (q.v.) was governor of Cilicia and Syria both at the time of our Lord's birth and some years afterwards. This decree for the taxing referred to the whole Roman world, and not to Judea alone. (See CENSUS.)