Oregon 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 Oregon[edit | edit source]

County Level[edit | edit source]

Most of the assessment or tax rolls for 1845 to 1900 are still located at the county courthouses. But some are deposited at the Oregon State Archives.

Oregon counties are required by law to keep their tax rolls through 1905 All subsequent records must be kept for fifty years before they are destroyed. The exception to this is for years ending in 0 or 5, which are kept for research samples. [1]

State Level[edit | edit source]

  • 1862-1866 Internal revenue assessment for Oregon Internal revenue assessment lists for Oregon was created into divisions and then Districts, each county is put into a district. County names are arranged alphabetically within the division and then within months. The following is a list of counties placed in which district. (knowing the district and county your ancestor lived in will make searching this years taxes list a little faster)
    (once on page scroll down to district desired and click on camera to open)

U.S. Internal Revenue Assessment Lists. Three types of Reports: A=Annual; M=Monthly; S=Special Years and Reports may be different.

  • For Oregon: There is only one District but different Divisions, different years and Reports. This will have to be a browse situation.

The Archives has a useful research tool from the state treasurer entitled. "Reports of Estates 1903-1913," which contains the date of death and the names of heirs of those who died testate. This record is arranged by county then by year. [2]

Oregon State Archives

Address: 800 Summer St NE, Salem, OR 97301
Building: Cecil L. Edwards Archives Building
Phone: (503) 373-0701
Home page

Guide to Archival records on line
Archives Division

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 tax were instituted on them. [3]

  • To learn more about this Collection click here
  • To learn more about the Civil War taxes click here

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. 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.

References[edit | edit source]