Washington 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 Washington[edit | edit source]

County Level[edit | edit source]

Washington's only tax records are for real and personal property, which were both taken at the county level. The records are held by the county assessors and the county treasurers. In some cases, the Washington State Archives' regional branches have acquired older records. These branches are excellent places to begin searching for county tax records. Not all county tax records have survived. Inheritance tax records are on microfilm at the Washington State Archives from 1901 until the tax was discontinued in 1981.[1]

State Level[edit | edit source]

There are three Depositories for the state of Washington, one specializes in digitizing records.

Washington State Archives
Address: 1129 Washington St SE
Olympia, WA 98501
Phone: (360) 586-1492
Washington State Archives

Washington State Archives, Digital Archives
960 Washington Street
Cheney, WA 99004
(509) 235-7500
Washington State Archives, Digital Archives

Puget Sound Regional Branch - Washington State Archives
Pritchard-Fleming Building
3000 Landerholm Circle SE, MS-
Address: Bellevue, WA 98007
Phone: (425) 564-3940
Puget Sound Regional Branch

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. [2]

  • 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]