Iowa 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.

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

County Level[edit | edit source]

In Iowa tax records have been kept since 1834, when the first county was formed. Tax lists are often used as substitutes for missing census records. They are especially valuable because they are usually taken each year. They start about the time a county was created and the records are generally kept in the county seat. They may include poll tax records, railroad tax books, taxable land lists, records of delinquent taxes, and road tax books. Some tax lists have been microfilmed and are at the Family History Library.

State Level[edit | edit source]

  • 1862-1866 Internal Revenue Assessment Lists for Iowa, 1862–1866 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: Davis, Des Moines, Henry, Jefferson, Lee, Louisa, Van Buren, Washington
DISTRICT 2: Ceder, Clinton, Jackson, Jones, Linn, Muscatine, Scott
DISTRICT 3: Bremer, Buchanan, Chickasaw, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Floyd, Howard, Mitchell, Winnesheek
DISTRICT 4: Benton, Iowa, Jasper, Johnson, Keokuk, Mahaska, Marion, Poweshiek, Tama, Warren
DISTRICT 5: Adam, Audubon, Cass, Clarke, Dallas, Decatur, Freemont, Guthrie, Harrison, Lucas, Madison, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Polk, Pattawattomice, Ringgold, Shelby, Taylor, Union, Warren, Wayne
DISTRICT 6: Black Hawk, Boone, Buena Vista, Butler, Calhoun, Carrol, Cerro Gordo, Cherokee, Clay, Crawford, Dickinson, Emmet, Franklin, Green, Grundy, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Humboldt, Ida, Kossuth, Lyon Marshell, Monona, O'Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Plymouth,Pocahontas, Sac, Sioux, Story, Webster, Winnebago, Woodbury, Worth, Wright


From mid-March 1934 to 1936, an Old Age Assistance Tax was levied. These tax records often provide the person’s birth date and birthplace and full names of the parents (including the wife's maiden name). The persons listed were born between the 1850s and 1914. The lists only include persons who owned real estate or taxable personal property. The following source is an example of the records available:

  • Wayne County (Iowa). County Recorder. Old Age Assistance Records, 1934–1936. [2]The records are alphabetical.

Tax Laws[edit | edit source]

Tax money bag.jpg

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. [3]

  • 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.

Other Resources[edit | edit source]

Acres for Cents: Delinquent Tax Auctions in Frontier Iowa by Robert P. Swierenga, Westport, Conn: Greenwood, 1976. Goes into the property that is Auctioned off because of the lack of taxes being paid.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. National Archives Microfilm Publications; M0766. Washington, DC: The National Archives, 1988. FHL films 1534648–63.
  2. Old Age Assistance Records, 1934–1936 Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1990. FHL films 1653885–88.
  3. Creation of the IRA