Finland Taxation

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Most of the Finnish tax records available through the Family History Library are part of the Old and New Collections of Accounts, which are discussed in Finland Public Records.

The silver tax records have been extracted and published separately. Each province has been published in separate volumes, which enumerate the tax paying farm owners by localities:

  • Fontell, A. G. Varsinais-Suomen hopeavero ja hopeaveroluettelo v. 1571: Egentliga Finlands silfverskatt och silferskatteregister för år 1571 (Silver Tax and Silver Tax Register for the Year 1571 for the Province of Finland Proper). Helsinki: Suomen Historiallinen Seura, 1892. This book is not available at the Family History Library.
  • Soikkeli, Kaarle. Uudenmaan hopeavero ja hopeaveroluettelo v. 1571: Nylands silfverskatt och silfverskatteregister för år 1571 (Silver Tax and Silver Tax Register for the Year 1571 for the Province of Uusimaa). Helsinki: Suomen Historiallinen Seura, 1912. (FHL book 948.971 R4s).
  • Suomen Hopeaveroluettelot 1571/Finlands Silverskatteregister 1571 (Silver Tax Registers of Finland, 1571). Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, 1944–87 (FHL book 948.97 R4s). This work includes the provinces not listed in the two previous sources.

The original silver tax records that these books were extracted from can be found in the Old Collection of Accounts by province for 1571.

Many other types of tax records included in the Old and New Collections of Accounts have not been published separately.

Tax Assessment Lists [Henkikirjat/Mantalslängder][edit | edit source]

These records provide a supplemental source of family linkage before and in lieu of the communion records. Usually these records precede the earliest church records and can frequently be used to extend family lines beyond what is recorded in the church records. They can also be used to obtain information where the church records have gaps or are missing.

These records are a list of persons assessed to pay taxes. While often called a census, with similar genealogical significance, it is actually a registration of persons eligible to pay taxes. Children under under the age of 12 were exempt, as well as persons who were blind, mentally incapacitated and the very elderly. Other exemptions could be granted, but the names of those persons are not included in these records. Members of the military, clergy, and some nobility were exempt from taxation until 1765.

Early taxes in the Swedish realm were on the milling of grain, but in time the taxes were based on a “headcount.” The process of tax assessment produced lists of inhabitants. By 1635 the taxation system had become standardized into the "soul count" (henki / mantal) with a "headtax" on each person (henkiraha / mantalspenning). Originally, only persons over the age of 12 were listed. After 1652, the ages included were 15 to 63. After 1655 it included heads of households over 63 as well. Nevertheless, many people were exempted from the tax and were not recorded in the assessment lists. Before 1765 the lists did not include the nobility and their servants. It also generally excluded owners of large estates, soldiers, as well as very poor and disabled people. After 1765 the Swedish government began to use the tax assessment lists for statistical purposes; therefore, everyone — including people exempt from the taxes — was required to register. Compliance was gradual. These lists were compiled irregularly, though in most cases yearly.

The early taxation records are grouped into the old collection of accounts (Vanhempi tilikirjakokoelma, Äldre räkenskapssamlingen), 1531-1634 and the new collection of accounts (Uudempi tilikirjakokoelma, Den nyare räkenskapssamlingen), 1635 to 1809. After 1809 when Finland became the Autonomous Grandy Duchy of Finland as part of the Russian Empire, this taxation system continued and the assessment lists became even more census-like.

Finland having become an independent nation in 1917, this tax was abolished in 1924. Nevertheless, after 1925 this "headcount" record continued as a civil population register organized by commune (civil parish). This system was discontinued after 1970. It was replaced by a new computerized record-keeping system called the Population Registry [Väestörekisteri/Befolkningsregistret]. This new registry includes data from the old Tax Assessment Lists and from the post-1923 civil registers of secular persons. Although popularly referred to as the Henkikirjat, this new data base is a distinct, modern Finnish system of civil registration.