About U.S., IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918
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.
The Internal Revenue Act also established the Office of Commissioner of Internal Revenue and allowed the country to be divided into collection districts, of which assessors and collectors were appointed.
Taxable goods and services were determined by legislative acts passed throughout the years. All persons, partnerships, firms, associations, and corporations submitted to the assistant assessor of their division, a list showing the amount of annual income, articles subject special taxes and duties, and the quantity of goods made or sold that were charged with taxes or duties. The assistant assessors collected and compiled these lists into two general lists. These lists were:
- 1. A list of names of all individuals residing in the division who were subject to taxation
2. A list of names of all individuals residing outside the division, but who were owners of property in the division
These lists were organized alphabetically according to surname and recorded the value, assessment, or enumeration of taxable income or items and the amount of tax due. After all examinations and appeals, copies of these lists were given to the collector who then went and collected the taxes.
The assessment lists are divided into 3 categories:
- 1. Annual
Annual and monthly lists are for taxes assessed or collected within those periods of time. Special lists supplemented incomplete annual and monthly lists and also included any taxes that were indicated as “special” by the assessors.
About the Records:
Form 23, Assessment List, was the form used for many years to record tax information. Although there are several different versions of this form, it generally recorded:
- Name of Collection District
- Name of Collector
- Date of the list
- Instructions for completing the form
- Name of person or business being taxed
- Taxable period
- Amount reported by the collector
- Remarks on the assessment
- Article or occupation taxed
- Record of payment if the tax was paid
- Amount paid or abated
Form 58, List of Unassessable Collections, recorded the receipt and disbursement of unassessed collections. Unassessed collections could include: conscience money, paid court order fines, and offers of compromise, among others.
States and Years Covered: