Georgia 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.

Other Georgia taxes were imposed on town lots, slaves and free persons of color, buildings and improvements, merchandise, lawyers, and doctors. The poll tax on all adult males made Georgia tax digests good census substitutes and supplements. [3]

How to Use Tax Records for Georgia[edit | edit source]

County Level[edit | edit source]

In Georgia records"Digest" is another name for "Lists"

During the colonial period, Georgia counties were divided into "Militia Districts" for the purpose of organizing a military company to defend the area from Indian raids or other threats. This practice continued after the Revolution, and as new counties were formed, new Militia Districts were created within their boundaries.

Each Georgia Militia District (GMD) was led by an elected Captain, who enrolled the names of every able-bodied male between the ages of 16 and 50 who lived within that District. "Muster Days", originally intended for military drilling, eventually evolved into little more than social events. The Militia system was abandoned during the Civil War period, but the district boundaries remain intact and retain their function as political subdivisions. Aside from providing a military company, Militia Districts were used as divisions for census enumeration, voting and taxation (Georgia taxpayers are still divided by GMD today).[4]

District names Militia Districts were originally identified by the name of their Captain. When a new Captain was elected, the name of the district would change; Captain Smith’s District became Captain Mathew’s District. In 1804, each GMD was assigned a number, and these numbers remain in use today. Eventually, each district was also labeled with a "place name" (Goosepond, Beaverdam), and these names have also remained unchanged. However, the practice of referring to a District by its Captain’s name continued for some time on census and tax rolls, making it a challenge to determine which district is which when studying these records.[5] An example of this is Oglethorpe County Militia Districts found on the following link Oglethorpe County Militia Districts ~ Captains' Names Scroll down to see Names and dates listed.

The following map is clickable and each county you click on will show names as well as just numbers as names gave way to numbers that stayed the same. Georgia Map for counties

State Level[edit | edit source]

  • 1865-1866 Internal revenue assessmetn lists for Georgia 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 desired district 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: contains Appling, Berrien, Brooks, Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Coffee, Colquitt, Echols, Effingham, Emanuel, Glynn, Irwin, Johnson, Laurens, Liberty, Lowndes, McIntosh, Montgomery, Pierce, Tattnall, Telfair, thomas, Ware, Wayne, and Wilcox counties.
DISTRICT 2: contains Baker, Bibb, Butts, Calhoun, Chattahoochee, Clay, Crawford, Decatur, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Harris, Houston, Lee, Macon, Marion, Miller, Mitchell, Monroe, Muscogee, Pike, Pulaski, Quitman, Randolph, Schley [sic], Spalding, Stewart, Sumter, Talbot, Taylor, Terrell, Upson, Webster, and Worth counties.
DISTRICT 3: contains Baldwin, Burke, Columbia, Elbert, Glascock, Greene, Hancock, Jasper, Jefferson, Jones, Lincoln, Morgan, Newton, Oglethorpe, Putnam, Richmond, Screven, Taliaferro, Twiggs, Warren, Washington, Wilkes, and Wilkinson counties.
DISTRICT 4: contains Banks, Campbell, Carroll, Cass, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Clarke, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, Dade, Dawson, De Kalb, Fannin, Fayette, Floyd, Forsyth, Franklin, Fulton, Gilmer, Gordon, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Haralson, Hart, heard, Henry, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison, Meriwether, Milton, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, Rabun, Towns, Troup, Union, Walker Walton, White, Whitfield.


Books[edit | edit source]

Many originals are at the Georgia Department of Archives and History. such as:

  • 1789-1817 - Tax digests for 1789-1817
  • 1872 to present - A complete set of originals for 1872 to the present
  • some earlier digests are on microfilm as well

Georgia Department of Archives and History
Phone: 678-364-3700
Address: 5800 Jonesboro Rd.
Morrow, GA 30260
The Georgia Department of Archives and History Website

If you wish to read more about the history of Georgia's Militia Districts click here Georgia Militia Districts

Tax money bag.jpg

Tax Laws[edit | edit source]

Taxes in Georgia were levied on free white males over 21 and all slaves up to age 60. These persons are referred to as "polls." Tax listings, or digests, of a county generally list the taxable landowners and other polls and the amount of tax. The records in each county are divided by militia district.

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. [6]

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

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. click here.
  3. https://wiki.rootsweb.com/wiki/index.php/Georgia_Tax_Records Red Book
  4. Georgia Militia districts
  5. Georgia Militia districts
  6. Creation of the IRA