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Tax records have been kept consistently in North Carolina from colonial times. Generally two types of taxes were used: taxes on people, known as poll or capitation tax, and taxes on property. Tax lists from the mid-eighteenth century to the 1900s exist for many counties and have been microfilmed. Copies are at the North Carolina State Archives and at the Family History Library. They include poll tax records, railroad tax books, taxable land lists, personal property tax lists, and records of delinquent taxes.
Until 1777 the poll tax was used almost exclusively, and it was used consistently until 1970. Over the years laws have changed the definition of who would be counted in the taxing. For example, the age at which men no longer had to pay taxes varied in different time periods, and during some periods new residents of the state were exempt from being taxed. In 1715 North Carolina began collecting taxes from the head of the household for all free males aged 16 or over and all slaves aged 12 or over. In 1835 the ages were changed to 21 to 45 for free males and 12 to 50 for slaves. Some early lists name each taxable person, so you may find a listing for both a father and his sons. Later lists generally give only the name of the head of a household and the number of additional taxable persons in the home.
The earliest property tax records date from 1715, though property tax did not become common until 1777.
Early Tax Lists
- Jackson, Ronald Vern. Early North Carolina. 7 vols. (Bountiful, Utah: Accelerated Indexing, 1980–.) At various libraries (WorldCat), 973 D2jeno Each volume is alphabetical. The date and the county of residence are given. The names in these volumes are listed in the Accelerated Indexing Systems fiche.
- There are some quit rent records, which are a form of tax list, for the time period 1729–1732 on pages 240–258 of volume 22 of The Colonial Records of North Carolina: Published under the Supervision of the Trustees of the Public Libraries, by Order of the General Assembly described in the North Carolina Public Records section. FHL book 975.6 N2n Volume 22 Digitized version available through the FHL catalog entry.
Federal Government Tax Lists
- United States. Bureau of Internal Revenue. Internal Revenue Assessment List for North Carolina, 1864–1866. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1988.) FHL films 1578467–68
Published Tax Lists
- Ratcliff, Clarence E., comp. North Carolina Taxpayers 1679–1790. 2 vols. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1987, 1989.) FHL book 975.6 R4rc This publication indicates the county where the person lived and the date when taxes were paid.
- County inheritance tax records date from about 1914 to the 1960s. These are at the North Carolina State Archives, and the Family History Library has microfilm copies of them. The records frequently give the names of the person’s heirs, their relationship to the person who died, and the value of the property. In cases when the person was very poor, there was no tax.
- Taxation records can be found in the Family History Library Catalog by using a Place Search under:
- NORTH CAROLINA- TAXATION
- NORTH CAROLINA, [COUNTY]- TAXATION