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Does the expression "taking a cut" (to mean taking some financial commission) imply some sort of grift, or is it neutral? If it implies some sort of grift, what would be a neutral equivalent expression?

Usage example:

When an academic researcher receives a gift funding from an industry partner, does the academic researcher's university take a cut, or does the academic researcher receives the entire gift funding?

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    it would be "receive", not "receives" but otherwise I would find it a correct and reasonably neutral sentence. In this context "takes a cut" doesn't imply anything illegal, immoral or unethical. – George White Jun 15 at 19:36
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"Take a cut" is relatively neutral and doesn't imply that anyone is acting illegally or improperly, though it is rarely a postive thing to say.

I work through a job agency, so I know that they take a cut of everything I earn.

The agency isn't acting improperly, there is no grift involved.

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