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]

  • 1862-1866 Internal revenue assessment lists for Pennsylvania Internal revenue assessment lists were created into divisions called Districts, each county is put into a district. County names are arranged alphabetically within the division and then within months. (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.

  • 1862-1874 Internal Revenue Assessment Lists There are 107 films; Below each District on the left side of the page are other films below that gives Reports as A,M,S months and years.

  • DISTRICT 1 Philadelphia (Wards 2-6,11)
  • DISTRICT 2 Philadelphia (Wards 1,7-10)
  • DISTRICT 3 Philadelphia (Wards 12,13,16-19)
  • DISTRICT 4 Philadelphia (Wards 14,15, 20,21,24)
  • DISTRICT 5 Philadelphia (22,23,25) + Bucks County
  • DISTRICT 6 Lehigh, Mongomery Counties
  • DISTRICT 7 Chester, Delaware Counties
  • DISTRICT 8 Berk County
  • DISTRICT 9 Lancaster County
  • DISTRICT 10 Lebanon, Schuylkill Counties
  • DISTRICT 11 Carbon, Monroe, Northampton, Pike, Wayne Counties
  • DISTRICT 12 Luzerne, includes present-day Lackawanna, Susquehanna counties
  • DISTRICT 13 Bradford, Columbia, Montour, Sullivan, Wyoming counties
  • DISTRICT 14 Dauphin, Juniata, Northumberland, Snyder, Union counties
  • DISTRICT 15 Cumberland, Perry, York counties
  • DISTRICT 16 None listed
  • DISTRICT 17 Blair, Cambria, Huntingdon, Mifflin Counties
  • DISTRICT 18 Centre, Clinton, Lycoming, Potter, Tioga counties
  • DISTRICT 19 Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, McKean, Warren counties
  • DISTRICT 20 Clarion, Crawford, Mercer, Venango counties
  • DISTRICT 21 Fayette, Indiana, & Westmoreland counties
  • DISTRICT 22 Allegheny, south of the Ohio River, including Neville Island
  • DISTRICT 23 Allegheny, north of the Ohio River, Armstrong, Butler counties
  • DISTRICT 24 Beaver, Greene, Lawrence, Washington counties

  • 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 tax were instituted on them. [4]

  • 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]

  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