What Is the Benefits Received Principle of Taxation?

The benefits received principle of taxation asserts that people and businesses who receive the benefit of a good or service financed by taxes should pay the tax it requires. The ability to pay principle is the opposite of the benefits received principle.

It can be difficult for governments to implement the benefits received principle because of its nature. It is not easy to measure the benefits that certain people receive from a public good. Most governments, however, normally implement taxes in cases where benefits are easily identified.

Charges, fees and taxes are often levied against those who use public universities, gasoline or national parks. Because the specific people who use these government resources receive much of the benefit from their existence, those people are asked to pay for the benefit they received. As an example, gasoline taxes are often used to construct and repair highways. This is because those who buy gasoline are assumed to be the users and the major beneficiaries of roads and highways.

The ability to pay principle is very different from the benefits received principle. The ability to pay principle asserts that the tax burden should be split up according to how able someone is to pay for government services.