North Carolina Poll Tax

North Carolina tax lists – definition of white and black “polls”

The poll tax was imposed on males and slaves in every household.

It was started in 1715 by the General Assembly and applied to all males over the age of 16 “white poll” and all slaves, male and female, over the age of 12 “black poll”, were also taxed at this time.

This tax was modified in 1777 and 1784 to include property owned.
In 1784, the black poll was changed to include freeman and male servants over the age of 21 (with males over 45 being exempt after 1835) and male and female slaves between the ages of 12 and 50.

In 1801, the poll tax was changed to exempt males over the age of 50 and in 1817, the age was dropped to 45.

After the abolition of slavery in 1868, the tax was changed to all males between the ages of 21 and 50 until the poll tax was ended in 1970.

Source: “North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History, 1996”, by Helen Leary, pages 231-232.


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