Nature of the Power of Taxation


Taxation is an inherent attribute of sovereignty. It is a power that is purely legislative. Essentially, this means that in the legislature primarily lies the discretion to determine the nature (kind), object (purpose), extent (rate), coverage (subjects) and situs (place) of taxation. It has the authority to prescribe a certain tax at a specific rate for a particular public purpose on persons or things within its jurisdiction. In other words, the legislature wields the power to define what tax shall be imposed, why it should be imposed, how much tax shall be imposed, against whom (or what) it shall be imposed and where it shall be imposed.
As a general rule, the power to tax is plenary and unlimited in its range, acknowledging in its very nature no limits, so that the principal check against its abuse is to be found only in the responsibility of the legislature (which imposes the tax) to its constituency who are to pay it. Nevertheless, it is circumscribed by constitutional limitations. At the same time, like any other statute, tax legislation carries a presumption of constitutionality. (GR No. 160756)

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