A fee levied by a government on a product, income or activity. If tax us levied on personal or corporate income, then it is a direct tax. If tax is levied on the price of a good or service, then it is an indirect tax.
(Definition source is here) The purpose of tax is to finance government expenditure. One of the most important uses of taxes is to finance public goods and services, such as street lighting and street cleaning. Since publ;ic goods and services do not allow a non-payer to be excluded, or allow exclusion by a consumer, there cannot be a market in the good or service, ans so they need tro be provided by a government or a quasi-government agency which tend to finance themselves largely through taxes.
A fee is a fixed charge or a sium charged for a service. A User Fee is a sum of money paid by the individual who chooses to access a service or facility. With user fees the individual pays for something he wants and receives what he has paid for. In contrast, taxes must be paid by force and do not necessarily go to a specific service or facility that an individual actually uses or benefits from. (source) Because user fees are more palatable than taxes, politicians may sometimes try to disguise taxes as user fees.
USER FEE hikes of $23 million are expected for 2011:
Toronto to Hike Fire False Alarm, Recreation Fees
* Household Garbage Pickup up by 3%
* Water Rate increase up by 9%
* Swimming, Skating, Arts and Crafts, DayCamps, etc up by 3%
* Cost of marriage licence goes up by 8% to $140
* Cost for false fire alarms going up to $1,230 an occurrence