On June 26, 1792, shortly after Kentucky separated from Virginia, the Kentucky Virginia Assembly approved legislation that "established a Permanent Revenue," i.e., the method for collecting state taxes. Commissioners would be appointed to make a "true and perfect account of all persons and of every species of property belonging to or in his possession or care, within the district."
Tax collection was on an annual basis, as it is today. If persons owned property in other counties, the property was declared by the owner in his county of residence or penalties were imposed. Unlike city or county levies or poll taxes, the state revenue tax did not exempt veterans, women, free blacks, impoverished, ministers, the infirmed or others. Simply owning a horse was justification for being included on the tax rolls. For that reason, tax lists can serve as an annual census.
Tax lists from 1795 to 1840 included columns that identified the original persons entering, surveying and patenting the land reported by the taxpayer. These columns can be a valuable resource for determining chain of title and plotting land location. The article, "Researching Early Kentucky Tax Lists: 1792-1840," first published by the Kentucky Genealogical Society, summarizes legislation regarding state revenue taxes and offres suggestions for additional research.
Disclaimer: The text of these Acts was entered manually; researchers should consult the published versions of the Virginia and Kentucky Acts for official use. Those Acts can be researched at the Kentucky History Center Library, the Department for Libraries and Archives, and the Supreme Court Law Library, all in Frankfort. Enrolled Bills and Governor's Journals (1792-1927) are available on microfilm at the Department for Libraries and Archives.
For a summary of major legislative acts from 1792 to 1840 regarding state revenue taxes and their value to genealogists and historians, visit the Tax List page on this website.