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Illinois Genealogy Resources

Tax Records

The first known tax authorization in Illinois fell under the jurisdiction of the Territory of the United States North West of the River Ohio. The tax was based on every hundred acres of unimproved uncleared prairie or woodland, divided into three classes based on quality of earth surface and soil. The rates were thirty, twenty, and ten cents, to be paid annually. Property with delinquent taxes was sold at public auction. There do not appear to be any surviving tax records from this territorial period.

In the early 1800s nonresident landowners' taxes went to the state, but revenues from local owners of land and personal property, including enslaved and indentured servants, remained in the counties. In 1815 the first poll taxes were assessed on males aged twenty-one through fifty. The age ranges varied over the years.

County archival materials include tax records beginning with statehood. The 1819 laws provided the first taxation process, imposing taxes on land, bank stock owned, slaves and indentured negroes or mulattoes, plus a poor tax. The tax was collected by the county, with income divided between the county and state. Taxpayers' lists were eliminated in 1824, and in 1825 a county road tax and the school taxes were enacted. Taxes could be paid in currency, or through 1869, labor on road construction or repair. Minutes and proceedings of the county commission or board of supervisors name road workers.

Tax lists from about 1824 (with gaps) appear in assessors' and collectors books. IRAD depositories and county treasurer's offices hold surviving records.

District assessors compiled federal taxes during the Civl War, paid mainly by manufacturing companies. The records have been microfilmed (Internal Revenue Assessment Lists for Illinois, 1862-1866, microfilm M764. Washington, D.C.: National Archives). The National Archives, Great Lakes Region, holds original assessment lists for Chicago (1895-1971), Peoria (1910-19), and Springfield (1905-17), largely for corporations, but individuals appear on some lists.

  • Haig, Robert Murray. "A History of the General Property Tax in Illinois," University of Illinois Studies in the Social Sciences 3 (March and June 1914): 19.
  • The Illinois Regional Archives Depositories (IRAD)
    - Original and microfilmed tax records include taxable land lists, assessors' books, railroad tax books, road tax records, and collectors' books, the earliest record date 1817. Other tax records are located in county seats.
  • McKay, M.K. "History of the Poll Tax in Illinois," Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 12 (April 19191): 41-44.
  • Parker, Mary. "Lands Taxed, Assessor's Book, 1826," St. Clair County Genealogical Society Quarterly 23, nos. 1-3 (2000): 1-18, 55-71, and 103-27.