Illinois 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 Illinois[edit | edit source]

County Level[edit | edit source]

Tax records are most commonly housed in the county seat for each county, although they can be found on state and local levels as well. The tax records include assessors’ books, railroad tax books, collectors’ books, taxable land lists, delinquent taxes, and road tax books. Some original and microfilmed copies are in the Illinois Regional Archives Depositories (IRAD). You may find Illinois Tax resources available at Introduction to the FamilySearch Catalog and WorldCat.

State Level[edit | edit source]

Illinois was divided into 13 tax districts. Genealogical periodicals often contain published tax lists.  To search periodicals use the Periodical Source Index (PERSI). For more information about periodicals, see the wiki page for United States periodicals or the Illinois state periodicals.

Tax Laws[edit | edit source]

Tax money bag.jpg

The first tax records of Illinois were created while Illinois was part of the Northwest Territory of the Ohio River in the late 1700s to early 1800s. These recorded an assessment for property tax on unimproved land, uncleared prairie or wood land, and were divided into three classes based on quality of earth surface and soil. If payment became delinquent, the property was sold at public auction. However, unfortunately, those early tax records do not appear to have survived.

After Illinois became a state, tax records of various kinds were kept in the counties where the records were created. Examples of the kind of tax records you might find are: land taxes, poor taxes, school taxes, and county road taxes. A person was also taxed for having bank stock, slaves, and indentured Blacks or Mulattoes.

While tax lists are often used as substitutes for missing census records, in Illinois they do not represent every household. Those who did not own taxable land or property were not listed. No voting or poll taxes were imposed. Most Illinois land purchased from the federal government was not taxable for five years. Therefore, a person appearing on a tax list for the first time may have actually lived in the area for several years. The tax was collected by the county, with income divided between the county and state. Taxpayers' lists were eliminated in 1824, and in 1825 a county road tax and school taxes were enacted.[1]

References[edit | edit source]