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West Virginia Taxation

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Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Tip or you can click, FamilySearch Catalog scroll down and click on the District camera to the right that you want and open to review. (District 3 is located on the same film as District 2 for years 1865-66)

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 West Virginia[edit | edit source]

County Level[edit | edit source]

For the years 1782-1900, duplicate copies are usually found at the county clerk's offices in the land books.

Check the county or counties you are interested in on the FamilySearch Research Wiki. The Wiki lists pages of where county tax lists have been published, what they have, what is online, or what the Family History Library has in the catalog to view.

The Family History Library has microfilm copies of the nineteenth century tax records of most counties.

State Level[edit | edit source]

NOTE that the 1862 organizational structure of the Internal Revenue districts in the State of Virginia and the new State of West Virginia remained the same even after West Virginia was admitted to the Union in 1863. Therefore, records of five of the counties that comprised the eastern panhandle of the new State (Morgan, Berkley, Jefferson, Hampshire, and Hardy) have been microfilmed as part of the records of District 3 of Virginia. However, after the reorganization of the Internal Revenue districts of the two States on May 3, 1865, the records pertaining to these counties are among the West Virginia assessment returns.

  • 1862-1866 Internal revenue assessment for West Virginia Internal revenue assessment lists were created into divisions called Districts, each county is put into a district. County names are arranged alphabetically within the division and then within months. The following is a list of counties placed in which district. The number of these may vary. Some may be missing or not filmed in order. (knowing the district and county your ancestor lived in will make searching this years taxes list a little faster)
    (once on page scroll down to district desired and click on camera to open)

U.S. Internal Revenue Assessment Lists. Three types of Reports: A=Annual; M=Monthly; S=Special Years and Reports may be different. To find these listing click here: R0ll numbers pages 5-9

Because of the split and creating a new state Virginia and West Virginia there are some counties where some Documents may or may not have been moved around, For the 5 counties in 1862 Morgan, Berkley, Jefferson, Hampshire and Hardy counties are with district 3 of Virginia for 1862.

DISTRICT 1: Est. 10 Oct 1862; Brook, Hancock, Marion, Marshall, Ohio, Pleasants, Preston, Taylor, Wetzel Counties
DISTRICT 2: Est. 10 Cot 1862; Barbour, Braxton, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Kanawha, Lewis, Mason, Putnam, Randolph, Ritchie, Roane, Tucker, Upshur, Webster, Wirt, Wood Counties
Reorganized 3 May 1865
DISTRICT 1: Brook, Calhoun, Doddridge, Gilmer, Hancock, Harrison, Marrion, Marshall, Ohio, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane,Tyler, Wetzel, Wirt. (Louis Co Transferred to Dis. 1 1 Aug 1865 and Wood Co., Transferred on 14 Mar 1866)
DISTRICT 2: Barbour, Berkeley, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Lewis, Monongalia, Morgan, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston, Randolph, Taylor, Ticker, Upshur, Webster (Marion Transferred here 1 Aug 1865)
DISTRICT 3: Boone, Braxton, Cabell, Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Jackson, Kanawha, Logan, McDowell, Mason, Mercer, Monroe, Nicholas, Putnam. Releigh, Wayne, Wood, Wyoming


A set of annual land tax assessment records from 1782 to 1900 is available at the State Auditor's Office (Capitol Complex, Charleston, West Virginia 25305-0300). Duplicate copies are usually found at the county clerk's offices in the land books.

The Virginia State Library has the original personal property tax books for West Virginia counties from 1782 to 1863. The West Virginia Archives and History Library has tax books from 1863 to 1935.

Virginia State Library
State Archive
800 E Broad St
(804) 692-3500


Books with published tax records (see West Virginia Census) in:

  • 1787- Personal property lists of 1787 is a substitute for the 1790 census  Schreiner-Yantis, Netti and Florence Speakman Love, compilers. The 1787 Census of Virginia: An Accounting of the Names of Every White Male Tithable Over 21 Years. Three Volumes. Springfield, Virginia: Genealogical Books in Print, 1987. FHL book 975.5 R4sn Check WorldCat for other Location

As a substitute for the missing 1800 Virginia census, use the abstracts of the personal property tax lists of 1800 for the 13 counties in the area that became West Virginia. These have been published in:

  • 1800- Virginians in 1800: Counties of West Virginia. Bridges, Steven A. Trumbull, Connecticut: Steven A. Bridges, 1987. FHL book 975.4 R4b Be sides the Salt Lake Family History Library check the WorldCat for other locations


Tax money bag.jpg

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. [1]

  • 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. 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[edit | edit source]