South Carolina 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 man 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 South Carolina[edit | edit source]

County Level[edit | edit source]

Tax-related records are kept by the offices of the Assessor, Auditor, Sheriff, and Treasurer in each county.

Other than a single tax list from 1733 and a few lists of tax collectors, no colonial tax records of South Carolina have survived. Parishes and townships functioned as tax districts until 1800; circuit courts, districts and their counties also functioned as tax districts from 1785-1800. About 16 "parishes" with various years have survived and can be found in the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.[1]

Most districts/counties have some tax records dating from 1800 to the present with the majority of tax records from 1865. A fairly complete series from 1824, mostly of the low Country districts, is available at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, along with originals and microfilmed copies of county tax records.[2]

Voter registration lists, 1867, 1868, and 1898 are another valuable substitute for tax records, The lists from 1867 and 1868 are particularly useful for African American research because the newly freed slaves registered to vote; many African Americans make their first appearance in the voter registration lists. The originals of the 1867, 1868, 1898 lists are at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. [3]

The best available substitutes for colonial tax lists are jury lists The jury lists include men eligible to serve on juries and were compiled from tax lists. See Mary Bondurant Warren, Comp., South Carolina Jury Lists, 1718-1783 (Danielsville, Ga.: Heritage Papers, 1977). Ge Lee Corley Hendrix and Morn McKoy Lindsay, comps., The Jury Lists of South Carolina, 1778-1779 (1975; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980) is accepted as proof of the identity of Revolutionary War patriots.
[4]

Directories for the city of Charleston date from 1782. These directories may help locate a Charleston ancestor who does not appear in other records. They are housed at the Charleston Library Society. [5]

Charleston Library Society
Address: 164 King St,
Charleston, SC 29401
Phone: (843) 723-9912
Link to home page: Charleston Library Society

State Level[edit | edit source]

  • 1862-1866 Internal revenue assessment lists for South Carolina 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. 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.


District 1,2 on roll 1; District 2,3 on roll 2:

DISTRICT 1: Chesterfield, Clarendon, Darlington, Georgetown, Horry, Kershaw, Lancaster, Marion, Marlboro, Sumter, Wimmsburg
DISTRICT 2: Barnwell, Beaufort, Charleston, Colleton, Orangeburg
DISTRICT 3: Abbeville, Anderson, Chester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Greenville, Laurens, Lexington, Newbery, Pickens, Richard, Spartanburg, Union York


The South Carolina Department of Archives and History is the largest repository of South Carolina taxation records, including:

  • Quitrents (records of property taxes paid to a proprietor or the crown), receipts, and disbursements for 1733 to 1774. The quitrent lists for 1768 have been published and indexed in:
    Mary Bondurant Warren, Citizens and Immigrants: South Carolina, 1768 (Athens, Georgia: Heritage Papers, 1980).  The lists for 1760-1764 are available online at lists for 1760-1764 (also linked above) FHL book 975.7 N28w 1994

South Carolina Department of Archives and History
8301 Parklane Road
Columbia, SC 29223
803-896-6196

  • Treasurer of the Lower Division, Tax Returns, 1783-1799. Lists for 1783 to 1786 were published in the South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, beginning in Volume 2. (See South Carolina Periodicals.)
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 taxes were instituted on them. [6]

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


  • Additional information on the history of South Carolina taxation and records can be found in
    Holcomb, Brent Howard, A Guide to South Carolina Genealogical Research and Records, (Columbia, SC:Brent H. Holcomb, 1998.) WorldCat 5990493; FHL book 975.7 D27h, 1998

References[edit | edit source]