United States, Internal Revenue Assessment Lists (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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United States Internal Revenue Assessment Lists, 1862-1874
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
United States
United States flag.png
Flag of the United States of America
NARA seal300.jpg
Seal of the National Archives
Record Description
Record Type Tax Assessment Lists
Record Group RG 58: Records of the Internal Revenue Service
Collection years 1862-1874
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
National Archives and Records Administration


What Is in This Collection?

The United States, Internal Revenue Assessments Lists collection consists of images of internal revenue assessment lists (annual, monthly and special) arranged by state and collection district. Based on the Internal Revenue Act of July 1, 1862 authorizing the collection of monthly and annual taxes on goods, services, licenses, income and personal property. The assessments were used to raise money for the Civil War. This collection consists of multiple state NARA microfilm publications from Record Group 58 Records of the Internal Revenue Service and covers the years 1862 to 1874.

General Information about the Internal Revenue Act

In July of 1962, Congress passed the Internal Revenue Act to provide income for the Government to pay the public debt including war costs. Monthly taxes were collected from transportation companies, interest on bonds, surplus funds accumulated by financial institutions and insurance companies; on receipts from auction sales, and on the sale of meat. Sales of advertisement space in newspapers were taxed quarterly. Annual licenses were required for all trades and occupations, and duties were placed on carriages, yachts, billiard tables, and gold and silver plate. Taxes were also collected yearly on all income over $600 and inheritances. Taxes were also imposed on medicines, perfume, cosmetics, and playing cards. The Internal Revenue Act also established the Office of Commissioner of Internal Revenue in the Treasury Department. This department managed the collection of taxes and duties, and prepared regulations, instructions, and forms used in assessing and collecting taxes. The President of the United States was authorized to divide the States and Territories into tax collection districts, and to appoint a tax assessor and collector for each district. The original Internal Revenue Act was significantly modified by an amendment in March of 1863 and by the Internal Revenue Act of 1864. In December of 1872 Congress abolished the offices of assessors which were closed in 1873. The taxes established to finance the Civil War were gradually abolished until only a tax on liquor and tobacco remained in 1883. The income tax was upheld by challenges brought before the Supreme Court which upheld the constitutionality of income tax during the war years, but when an attempt to revive the tax was made the Supreme Court reversed its decision and declared that income tax was unconstitutional in 1895 as it was a direct tax. The 1895 Supreme Court ruling led to the ratification of the sixteenth amendment in 1913 which states that Congress has the power to establish and collect taxes on incomes.

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for United States, Internal Revenue Assessment Lists, 1862-1874.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

Information found in this collection may include:

  • Date
  • Name
  • Residence
  • Property, license, or goods
  • Value
  • Amount of tax
  • May also list profession, occupation, or trade

Collection Content

Sample Image

The following information is from the National Archives and Records Administration. The 1862 organizational structure of the Internal Revenue districts in the State of Virginia and the new State of West Virginia remained the same even after West Virginia was admitted to the Union in 1863.

The records of the following five of the counties that comprised the eastern panhandle of the new state have been included as part of the records of District 3 of Virginia.

  • Morgan
  • Berkeley
  • Jefferson
  • Hampshire
  • Hardy

After the reorganization of the Internal Revenue districts of the two states on May 3, 1865, the records pertaining to these counties are included with the West Virginia assessment returns.

How Do I Search the Collection?

Tax records are usually used to supplement census records. Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The residence of your ancestor

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page

  1. Select State or Territory (NARA Publication Number)
  2. Select NARA Roll Number and Description
  3. Select County or City
  4. Select NARA Roll Number and Description to view the images.

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Use the name and residence of the taxpayer to locate land records and census records
  • The description of property, license, or goods can help you determine an occupation: someone living at a church is probably a minister; someone with several acres of land or many farm animals is probably a farmer; someone living on the same property as the school may be a teacher; someone living above or behind a store is probably a merchant. Occupations can lead you to employment records or other types of records such as school or church records
  • Following an ancestor through the assessment rolls can help you establish a family migration pattern or identify the year an individual moved into an area or left the area
  • The assessment rolls can also indicate that an individual died. Use the last known tax year as an approximate death year. Use the death year and residence to locate death or probate records
  • It is often helpful to extract the information on all individuals with the same surname in the same general area. If the surname is uncommon, it is likely that those living in the same area were related
  • Other family members may have lived nearby so you may want to search an entire town, neighboring towns, or even a county
  • Additional searches may be needed to locate all members of a particular family in the assessment rolls

I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names as well as nick-names
  • Look for an index. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records
  • Search the records of nearby counties
  • Consult the United States Record Finder to find other records

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation

"United States, Internal Revenue Assessment Lists, 1862-1874." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. Citing Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.

Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

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