Jewish Taxation

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Governments collect taxes from the citizens of their countries, including such taxes as poll or head taxes, property taxes, and taxes on various commodities such as food, hearths, and windows. In addition to these general taxes, Jews in some countries paid special taxes. Some governments did not allow Jews to own real estate, so taxes were assessed on other items. For example, in Eastern Europe a tax was taken on Sabbath candles to support Jewish education. The box tax was assessed on every pound of kosher meat sold by a butcher and purchased by a Jew and on every slaughtered animal. Before 1827 Russia assessed a head tax on young Jewish men. Conscription into the army for a period of 25 years took the place of this head tax.

Revision lists from Russia are a valuable research tool for genealogists. A taxation list similar to a census record, these lists date from 1795 through the later 19th century and often have a separate section for Jews in an area. These records include names, ages, family relationships, gender, marital status, occupations, and so on. They are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under the Russian province or the town name and the topic Taxation or Census. Tax records vary in content according to the purpose of the assessment. They usually include the name and residence of the taxpayer and may list other details such as occupation, description of real estate, or number of children or farm animals. Many tax records have been deposited in local,
county, state or province, or national archives.

Some Jewish web sites include databases extracted from tax records, such as the one for Kelme, Lithuania. See various Jewish databases at:

The Family History Library has taxation records for many countries. Check for these records in the Place Search of theFamilySearch Catalog under the name of the town, county, or state and the topic Taxation.