Tax is an enforced contribution exacted pursuant to legislative authority in order to raise revenue for a public purpose. The first recorded tax in Canada appears to date back to 1650 when an export tax of 50% on all beaver pelts and 10% on moose belts was levied on the residents of New France.

Canadians are today subject to a wide variety of taxes. Both the federal and provincial governments impose tax on income earned by individuals and corporations. Almost every sale of a broad range of goods and services is subject to the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST). The federal government also imposes Excise Tax on a variety of products including gasoline, manufactured tobacco, wine and jewellery.

All provinces, except Alberta, levy a retail sales tax. As well, provinces and local governments levy taxes on land, which is paid annually by the owner on some portion of its value. In addition, Canadians are subject to a number of minor taxes such as tariffs imposed by the federal government on goods imported into Canada and amusement taxes levied by provincial and local governments.

Tax revenues for all levels of government in Canada, as a percentage of gross domestic product, have risen over time. For example, in 1975, tax revenues amounted to 31.1% of gross domestic product; in 1992, this percentage increased to 37%.