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Pennsylvania 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. person’s residence.


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

County Level[edit | edit source]

The Family History Library has microfilm copies of many county tax lists from county or state repositories. These lists often date from the creation of the county and to the early 1800s. An example is Pennsylvania, Comptroller General, Tax and Exoneration Lists, 1762-1801 FHL Collection. Many of these may be the same as those cited in the Pennsylvania Archives above.

  • Check the individual County pages on the wiki to see what tax records are at FamilySearch and online.

State Level[edit | edit source]

  • 1862-1874 Internal Revenue Assessment Lists

Because there are 24 Districts Too many to list here, the best way to find the District you want is to click on the following:
A research guide The Internal Revenue Assessment Lists for Districts is on pages 5-6 with Roll numbers. Pages 7-12 listing Roll Number, type of tax record, and Districts with date of lists.

Step 2. Click on Pennsylvania from there you will have to find the roll that you want and browse.

  • 1780 - The eleven colonial counties are also indexed in John D. and Diane Stemmons, Pennsylvania in 1780: A Statewide Index of Circa 1780 Taxlists (Salt Lake City, Utah: [Stemmons Publishing Co.], 1978. FHL book 974.8 R42p This is only a film not digitized, check WorldCat for other locations for this film

Books Published:

  • various years between 1765-1791 The Pennsylvania Archives 3rd series, volumes 11-22, contains tax lists for varying years between 1765-1791, for 14 of the 19 counties created by 1788. Indexes are in volumes 27-29 of the series FHL films 824436-37

Pennsylvania State Archives
Address: 801 North 3rd Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102
Phone: (717) 783-3281


Tax money bag.jpg

Tax Laws[edit | edit source]

Abraham Lincoln instituted the income tax in 1862, and on July 1, 1862, Congress passed the Internal Revenue Act, creating the Bureau of Internal Revenue (later renamed to the Internal Revenue Service). This act was intended to “provide Internal Revenue to support the Government and to pay interest on the Public Debt.” Instituted in the height of the Civil War, the “Public Debt” at the time primarily consisted of war expenses. For the Southern States that were part of the Confederate side of the Civil War, once Union troops took over parts of the Southern States, income taxes were instituted on them. [4]

  • To learn more about the Internal Revenue Assessment Lists Collection click here
  • To learn more about the Civil War taxes click here


References[edit | edit source]

  1. May be used for free at Family History Center. To locate a center near you, click here.
  2. May be used for free at Family History Center. To locate a center near you, click here.
  3. May be used for free at Family History Center. To locate a center near you, click here.
  4. Creation of the IRA

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