Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Duty

Quick Summary of Duty

In international trade, a customs duty, or tariff, is a tax on the import or export of specific goods. An import duty designed to shield domestic industry from foreign competition is called a protective duty, or protective tariff. In contrast, a revenue duty is simply designed to raise government revenue. Every duty is a trade barrier, and some economic theories state that the result of all trade barriers is a general lessening of aggregate economic welfare. The World Trade Organization was founded in 1994 with a mission of reducing all trade barriers, including the import duty. In law, fiduciary duty refers to standards of conduct above and beyond normal arms-length business conduct in dimensions such as loyalty, care, and disclosure. Fiduciary duty is important in multiple areas of law including agency, trust, and corporate governance.

What is the dictionary definition of Duty?

Dictionary Definition

Duty is a taxation on goods that have been imported, exported, or consumed.

  1. That which one is morally or legally obligated to do.
  2. A period of time spent at work or doing a particular task.
  3. Describing a workload as to its idle, working and de-energized periods.

n. 1) a legal obligation, the breach of which can result in liability. In a lawsuit a plaintiff must claim and prove that there was a duty by defendant to plaintiff. This can be a duty of care in a negligence case or a duty to perform in a contract case. 2) a tax on imports.

Full Definition of Duty

Duty is a form of tax imposed on goods imported to a country. It is imposed on specific services and goods. Duties may also be imposed on financial transactions. The term is not applicable in the case of individuals. Income tax is not considered as a duty.

Duties may not be imposed in certain situations as in duty-free shops at international airports. This enables foreign visitors to a country or transiting through a country to purchase commodities at a lower price compared to shops selling the same goods with a duty imposed on them. Duties may also be imposed on exports and imports.

Free Trade

Free trade is international business not constricted by duties or other government encumbrances.

Ad Valorem Tax

Ad valorem tax is a type of tax that is based on the assessed value of personal property or real estate. These type of tax can include duties on imported goods and property tax. Ad valorem tax on property constitutes a major chunk of revenue for municipal and state governments. Property taxes are determined by the assessed value of property that is then employed to calculate an annual tax payable by the owner of the property.


A fiduciary is a person empowered to hold assets of another individual. A fiduciary is expected to manage assets for the benefit of the actual owner rather than his or her own profit. The term ‘fiduciary’ also means a loan that is granted on trust and does not have an asset or some form of security as collateral.

General Order

A General order or GO is a status given to imported goods that does not have proper documentation. This may include consignments that are not given standard clearance by customs. Materials may be classified as general order if the correct duties and taxes are not paid within 15 days. After 15 days, the materials would be transferred to a bonded warehouse. If materials stay as a GO for 6 months, the government will auction off those goods.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Duty. PayrollHeaven.com. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. September 22, 2021 https://payrollheaven.com/define/duty/.
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Duty. PayrollHeaven.com. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. https://payrollheaven.com/define/duty/ (accessed: September 22, 2021).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Duty. PayrollHeaven.com. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from PayrollHeaven.com website: https://payrollheaven.com/define/duty/

Definition Sources

Definitions for Duty are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 5th August, 2021 | 0 Views.