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Michigan 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 Michigan[edit | edit source]

County Level[edit | edit source]

Either the county treasurer or the register of deeds will be the custodian of tax records. Property tax records usually date back to the first land records. Records include name of the owner or occupant of the property, legal description and number of acres, value of land and personal estate, and amount of tax levied. There are tax rolls for some counties for the late 1830's, but most are for the last half of the nineteenth century. A complete list of these extensive rolls can be obtained from the Michigan State Archives Circular No. 1, Tax/Assessment Rolls at the State Archives. This circular also lists those tax rolls kept at the archives regional depositories. In person research at the Archives is encouraged due to the complicated nature of tax records. [1]

State Level[edit | edit source]

Taxation in Michigan takes many forms. Individuals and corporations in Michigan are required to pay taxes or fee charges to both levels of government: state and local.

The Archives of Michigan is located inside the Michigan Library and Historical Center building, which is located at:

State Archives of Michigan
702 W. Kalamazoo St.
Lansing, MI 48915
Email: Archives@Michigan.gov Phone: 517-335-2576

Phone Hours M-F: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Research Hours M-F: 1 - 5 p.m. Sat: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.


National Archives Great Lakes Region in Chicago
7358 South Pulaski Road
Chicago, IL 60629
Phone: 773-948-9001
Email: chicago.archives@nara.gov​

Hours Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:15 p.m.

Closed to the public on Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays. National Archives' Great Lakes Region in Chicago holds numerous federal personal property and corporate tax assessment lists for the state of Michigan.

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

References[edit | edit source]