California Taxation

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Taxation


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Why Use Tax Records

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 California

"The U.S. Internal Revenue Service Assessment List for California (1862-'66) is available on microfilm at the California State Library in Sacramento and the FHL. (FHL-listed above for on line link) The lists include names, location, and description of business, and tax rate for individuals taxed."[1]


County Level

Currently there are not a lot of records available in the Family History catalog . The exception are counties Alpine, Amador, Fresno, Napa, Nevada, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco and San Luis Obispo.


State Level

The California State Archives has the tax records from 1861 on. The main record collections are:

  • Secured Tax Rolls -- A record of all taxes levied on real property.
  • Indexes to Secured Tax Rolls -- Indexes to records of taxes levied on real property.
  • Unsecured Tax Rolls -- A record of all taxes levied on certain personal property.

For a more complete description of the contents of these records, see The Historical Record of County Government in California.

Historical County records[2] Pages 10,11, and 12. or Online California State Archives[3] Page 68.

Tax Laws

Inheritance Tax: Began around 1893 Revised in 1905, 1911, 1913 and 1917 ( Compiled 1921)

Estate Tax: began 8 September 1916

To learn more about these two taxes you can visit this site: Inheritance Tax Act of California and the Estate Tax Law of the U.S. [4]


Since 1861, the tax collector collects taxes. Previously the treasurer and later the sheriff collected taxes. Except for inheritance taxes, the tax collector collects all county taxes, including "taxes on real and personal property, schools and special districts, and business licenses. "Historically the office of tax collector was combined with the office of county treasurer and sheriff. Today it is usually with the treasurer's office."


In July of 1862, Congress passed the Internal Revenue Act to provide income for the Government to pay the public debt including Civil War costs. After the Civil War, taxes were abolished until only a tax on liquor and tobacco remained in 1883. An 1895 Supreme Court ruling declared that income tax was unconstitutional and led to the ratification of the sixteenth amendment in 1913 which states that Congress has the power to establish and collect taxes on incomes. This was the beginning of our modern day taxes.

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. Many of the changes the state has made in the past to lower the local property tax required a shift in financial responsibility from the local governments to the state. 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

  1. California Tax records
  2. Historical County records
  3. [Online California State Archives]
  4. Inheritance Tax Act of California and the Estate Tax Law of the U.S.