District of Columbia 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 District of Columbia[edit | edit source]

If you don't find tax records in the District of Columbia for your ancestor, you may want to go to Virginia tax records or Maryland tax records. Many people who claimed their residence as D.C. may have actually lived just outside the city and paid their taxes to the state.

Alexandria City is a suburb to the District of Columbia. Alexandria City tax assessments from 1796 to 1869 are found at the:

The Library of Virginia
800 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219-8000
Telephone: 804-692-3500
Internet: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/

The Washingtonian Division of the District of Columbia Public Library has the following:

  • 1800-1819, 1835-1879 Washington assessments,
  • 1819-1835, 1848-1857, 1863-1867 Washington County proceedings of the Levy Court,
  • 1855-1864, 1868-1879 General assessments,
  • 1871-1879 Tax books,
  • 1871-1879 Georgetown tax books,
  • 1871-1878 Tax collection journal,

The National Archives has microfilmed the following:

  • 1801-1808, 1822-1874 Georgetown financial journals and ledgers,
  • 1814-1879 General assessment books,
  • 1814-1940 City of Washington assessments, (Record Group 351)
  • 1824-1879 City of Washington assessment lists, (exclusive of Georgetown)
  • 1855-1879 Levy Court assessment books for the County of Washington,
  • 1862-1866 Internal Revenue lists,
  • 1871-1879 Washington County tax books,

Other possibilities
Some lists are housed in the Washintoniana Divistion of the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial Library. and some lists cover Georgetown and Washington County.[1]

Typed copies of Georgetown real property assessments for 1783, 1793, 1798 are at the

Peabody Room of the
Georgetown Regional Library
Wisconsin Avenue and R Street
N.W., Washington D.C.[2]

  • 1798 - Original District of Columbia U.S. District Tax of 1798 are located at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore, but Microfilm copies of it are available at the Georgetown Regional Library of the District of Columbia Archives and at the Maryland Archives in Annapolis.[3]
  • 1791-1878 - Georgetown, Maryland. Records, 1791-1878, including tax records for the city of Georgetown, which Congress consolidated with Washington, D.C., in 1895. [4]

Tax Laws[edit | edit source]

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. [5]

  • To learn more about this Collection click here

Abraham Lincoln instituted the income tax in 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. 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 tax were instituted on them.

  • To learn more about the Civil War taxes click here

References[edit | edit source]