Commander Tax – Rules and Interactions Explained

One key part of the Commander format that helps keep some decks in line is Commander tax. It makes it so that players can’t replay commanders over and over again. This is especially important for powerful commanders with high mana values.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about what Commander tax is, how it works, and how to deal with it.

What is Commander Tax?

A player may cast a commander they own from the Command Zone. A commander cast from the command zone costs an additional {2} for each previous time the player casting it has cast it from the command zone that game. This additional cost is informally known as the “Commander tax.”

Commander rule 903.8

So, Commander tax is the additional cost you have to pay when you cast your commander from the command zone (apart from the first time). This cost is two generic mana for each time you’ve cast it from the Command Zone that game.

Commander tax does not apply to commanders cast from your hand, graveyard, or library. This means casting commanders from zones other than the command zone does not increase Commander tax, nor do you have to pay it.

Brokkos, Apex of Forever Commander Tax Rules Explained

However, Commander tax does apply to commanders that have alternate casting costs, such as Brokkos, Apex of Forever. If you cast Brokkos from the command zone using its mutate ability, you must pay any Commander tax you’ve accrued.

Why is There a Commander Tax?

Commander tax is important for balancing the game. Many EDH decks are based around their commander. Having your deck’s key card start outside the game, like an eighth card in hand, is a powerful advantage.

Additionally, unlike companions, commanders can return to the command zone after they are removed. This makes them incredibly easy to recur. Commander tax helps keep them in check by making them more expensive as the game goes on.

Rograkh Son of Rohgahh

However, not all commanders are affected in the same way. It might do a good job keeping some powerful commanders in check, but it disproportionately impacts higher-cost commanders. Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh is free to cast, save for Commander tax. This means you can remove it three or four times before it starts to get too expensive to cast.

Omnath, Locus of Rage, however, costs seven mana to begin with, so Commander tax quickly makes it impossible to cast. Some commanders, like Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, actually benefit from Commander tax, by giving you a bonus from casting it with more mana.

How to Deal With Commander Tax

If you play in a meta with lots of removal, you may find your commander spends more time in the command zone than anywhere else. There are a number of ways to deal with this problem.

Protect Your Commander

Swiftfoot Boots Commander Tax Rules Explained

The first way to deal with Commander tax is to keep it on the board in the first place. Swiftfoot Boots and Lightning Greaves prevent your opponents from targeting your commander, while Darksteel Plate can protect it against some boardwipes.

Heroic Intervention and Lazotep Plating can help protect your whole battlefield, whereas various counterspells can help you avoid removal and boardwipes altogether.

Commander Tax Evasion

If, despite these safeguards, you still find yourself paying exorbitant fees for your commander, tax evasion is always an option.

Command Beacon How to Avoid Commander Tax

Bouncing your commander to your hand with cards like Unsummon let you re-cast it for cheaper. Command Beacon lets you avoid Commander tax once by moving your commander from the command zone to your hand.

Play Commanders With Cost Reduction

Alternatively, some commanders, like Ghalta, Primal Hunger and Licia, Sanguine Tribune have generic mana cost reduction abilities, which can be used to reduce the cost of Commander tax. If you have certain cards in play, this means each cast of your commander could be next to free.

Zacama, Primal Calamity does require you to have the capital in advance, but its rebate ability essentially allows you to cast it for free.

If you’re feeling brave, take comfort in the fact that it’s actually impossible for you to pay Commander tax for Haakon, Stromgald Scourge.


Commander tax is a key feature of EDH games. While it can be annoying, there are ways to prevent, avoid, and circumvent it. Plus, your opponents have to as well! Find ways to leverage it against them, and make sure your deck contains alternate methods of winning the game.

If you’re looking for more Commander articles, here are some that might be interesting to you:

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