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Iowa Taxation

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Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Why Use Tax Records[edit | edit source]

By studying several consecutive years of tax records you may determine when a young men came of age, when individuals moved in and out of a home, or when they died leaving heirs. Authorities determined wealth (real estate, or income) to be taxed. Taxes can be for polls, real and personal estate, or schools.

Tax record content varies and may include the name and residence of the taxpayer, description of the real estate, name of original purchaser, description of personal property, number of males over 21, number of school children, slaves, and farm animals. Tax records usually are arranged by date and locality and are not normally indexed. Tax records can be used in place of missing land and census records to locate a person’s residence.

How to Use Tax Records for Iowa[edit | edit source]

County Level[edit | edit source]

In Iowa tax records have been kept since 1834, when the first county was formed. Tax lists are often used as substitutes for missing census records. They are especially valuable because they are usually taken each year. They start about the time a county was created and the records are generally kept in the county seat. They may include poll tax records, railroad tax books, taxable land lists, records of delinquent taxes, and road tax books. Some tax lists have been microfilmed and are at the Family History Library.

State Level[edit | edit source]

From mid-March 1934 to 1936, an Old Age Assistance Tax was levied. These tax records often provide the person’s birth date and birthplace and full names of the parents (including the wife's maiden name). The persons listed were born between the 1850s and 1914. The lists only include persons who owned real estate or taxable personal property. The following source is an example of the records available:

  • Wayne County (Iowa). County Recorder. Old Age Assistance Records, 1934–1936. [2]The records are alphabetical.

1862-1865 - Internal Revenue Assessment Lists for Iowa, 1862–1866 tax records are divided into districts, the following is a list of the counties in each district.

District 1
Davis, Des Moines, Henry, Jefferson, Lee, Louisa, Van Buren, Washington

District 2
Ceder, Clinton, Jackson, Jones, Linn, Muscatine, Scott

District 3
Bremer, Buchanan, Chickasaw, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Floyd, Howard, Mitchell, Winnesheek

District 4
Benton, Iowa, Jasper, Johnson, Keokuk, Mahaska, Marion, Poweshiek, Tama, Warren

District 5
Adam, Audubon, Cass, Clarke, Dallas, Decatur, Freemont, Guthrie, Harrison, Lucas, Madison, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Polk, Pattawattomice, Ringgold, Shelby, Taylor, Union, Warren, Wayne

District 6
Black Hawk, Boone, Buena Vista, Butler, Calhoun, Carrol, Cerro Gordo, Cherokee, Clay, Crawford, Dickinson, Emmet, Franklin, Green, Grundy, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Humboldt, Ida, Kossuth, Lyon Marshell, Monona, O'Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Plymouth,Pocahontas, Sac, Sioux, Story, Webster, Winnebago, Woodbury, Worth, Wright

Tax Laws[edit | edit source]

Tax money bag.jpg

What history has shown us is that while property taxes are locally levied, there is significant state involvement with the amount of tax local political subdivisions can levy, how property assessments are conducted, and what services local taxing subdivisions must provide for their residents. Many of the changes the state has made in the past to lower the local property tax required a shift in financial responsibility from the local governments to the state. This comes at a cost to state taxpayers, because the state has obligations it must fund as well, with a limited amount of state tax dollars.

In July of 1862, Congress passed the Internal Revenue Act to provide income for the Government to pay the public debt including Civil War costs. After the Civil War, taxes were abolished until only a tax on liquor and tobacco remained in 1883. An 1895 Supreme Court ruling declared that income tax was unconstitutional and led to the ratification of the sixteenth amendment in 1913 which states that Congress has the power to establish and collect taxes on incomes. This was the beginning of our modern day taxes.

To learn more about the Civil War taxes click here

Other Resources[edit | edit source]

Acres for Cents: Delinquent Tax Auctions in Frontier Iowa by Robert P. Swierenga, Westport, Conn: Greenwood, 1976. Goes into the property that is Auctioned off because of the lack of taxes being paid.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. National Archives Microfilm Publications; M0766. Washington, DC: The National Archives, 1988. FHL films 1534648–63.
  2. Old Age Assistance Records, 1934–1936 Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1990. FHL films 1653885–88.

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