I have a problem with the term tax returns regarding its genesis and use in international communication.
1) Genesis and logic
I do not understand the logic behind it. As far as I see, "tax returns" are actually tax declarations, i.e. a set of documents filed by e.g. an individual and sent to the government's financial authorities to declare his/her income, so that the government can decide on this individual's income tax. If this is correct, why is this called a "return"? Nothing gets returned here. A document gets handed out. There is even not money to be returned, rather there will be money to be paid. (Exception: German employees, on filing their tax declaration often get back parts of taxes paid on their behalf by the employer because employers are obliged to send part of the monthly salary directly to the financial authorities, and depending on circumstances, employees can get back overpaid taxes by the end of the year. This, I would say, is indeed literally a tax return.)
Clearly "tax return" is in use in the USA. Question: could or should I use it also in international contexts (everywhere outside the US)? Or should I better use a more generic term such as tax declaration?