Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Ballentine's Law Dictionary

    A tax, generally duties on manufacture, sale, or consumption of commodities within the country, or upon certain callings or professions. See 157 U. S. 429, 39 L. Ed. 759, 15 Sup. Ct. Rep. 673.

  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    An inland imposition, paid semetimes upon the consumption of the commodity, and frequently upon the retail sale. 1 Bl. Comm. 318; Story, Const. § 950; Scholey v. Rew, 23 Wall. 346, 23 L. Ed. 99; Patton v. Brady, 184 U. S. 608, 22 Sup. Ct. 493, 46 In Ed. 713; Portland Bank v. Apthorp, 19 Mass. 256; Union Bank v. Hill, 3 Cold. (Tenn.) 328. The words "tax" and "excise," although often used as synonymous, are to be considered as having entirely distinct and separate significations, under Const. Mass. c. 1, § 1, art. 4. The former is a charge apportioned either among the whole people of the state or those residing within certain districts, municipalities, or sections. It is required to be imposed, so that, if levied for the public charges of government, it shall be shared according to the estate, real and personal, which each person may possess; or, if raised to defray the cost of some local improvement of a public nafure, it shall be borne by those who will receive some special and peculiar benefit or advantage which an expenditure of money for a public object may cause to those on whom the tax is assessed. An excise, on the other hand, is of a different character. It is based on no rule of apportionment or equality whatever. It is a fixed, absolute, and direct charge laid on merchandise, products, or commodities, without any regard to the amount of property belonging to those on whom it may fall, or to any supposed relation between money expended for a .public obj'ect and a special benefit occasioned to those by whom the charge is to be paid. Oliver v. Washington Mills, 11 Allen (Mass.) 268. The term is also extended to the imposition of public charges, in the nature of texes, upon other subjects than the manufacture and sale of commodities, such as licenses to pursue particular callings, the franchises of corporations and particularly the franchise of corporate existenco, and the iuberitanco or succession of estates. Pollock v. Farmers' L. & T. Co., 158 U. S. 601, 15 Sup. Ct. 912, 39 L. Ed. 1108; Scholey v. Rew, 23 Wall. 346, 23 I. Ed. 99; Hancock v. Singer Mfg. Co., 62 N. J. Law, 289, 41 Atl. 846, 42 In R. A. 852. In English law. The name given to the duties or texes laid on certain articles produced and consumed at home, among which spirits have always bcen the most important; but, exclusive of these, the duties on the licenses of auctioneers, brewers, etc., and on the licenses to keep dogs, kill game, etc., are included in the excise duties. Wharton.
    —Excise law. A law imposing excise duties on specified commodities, and providing for the collection of revenue therefrom. In a more restricted and more popular sense, a law regulating, restricting, or taxing the manufacture or sale of intoxicating liquors.